Love and Murder

Gail Bowen, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-312-09344-0

This U.S. debut by a Canadian writer is less a mystery than an elegant and painstaking examination of family ties and friendships, both battered beyond recognition by time and willful egos. Sally Love has achieved fame and notoriety in the art world with her works of ``erotobiography.'' But she has suffered losses along the way: she's in the process of selling her gallery; has lost touch with her childhood friend, Joanne Kilbourn; and is estranged from her husband, her mother and her daughter. A third of the novel is a tense, masterfully written character study; then the killings begin: the disturbed gallery manager is ritually murdered, and one of the many irate protesters outside the gallery where Sally's newest piece is on display is gunned down. The author subverts the usual notions of plot, shifting narrative gears frequently to dwell on a telling detail or an evocative aside. The effect, while a mite unsettling, is bold and powerful. Subsequent deaths result in too few suspects but by then the quixotic, volatile relationships connecting Sally to Joanne and to the rest of the world have firmly seized the reader's imagination . (May)
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