Under the Influence

Elizabeth Travis, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (263p) ISBN 978-0-312-02994-4
This entertaining debut of a mystery series introduces two likable, 30-something amateur sleuths, Ben and Carrie Porter, who run a small publishing house in the WASP enclave of Rivervale, Conn. Their comfortable lives are disrupted abruptly when the body of Greg Dillon, a local portrait painter, is found in their office, Ben's fishing knife plunged in his chest. Suspicion is quickly thrown from Ben to local accountant Frank Lundy, whose wife was Dillon's most recent conquest. But soon it becomes apparent that any number of people could have murdered the philandering Dillon, who made a habit of seducing prominent Rivervale matrons. When Dillon's studio is mysteriously torched, the police theorize that one of Dillon's former models is the killer; curiosity and cheeky bravado compel Ben and Carrie to track down the suspect. With deft strokes, Travis ( Deadlines ) reveals the psychological motivation of the crime; the denouement is a complete surprise. Unfortunately, the tone here is overly arch: the local townies are portrayed so loutishly, and the striving yuppie crowd of Ben and Carrie's circle is so one-dimensional, that the lighthearted charm Travis tries for is strained. Book Club selection. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-373-26092-8
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