Candles for the Dead

Frank Smith, Author Minotaur Books $20.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-20771-7
Shropshire police inspector Neil Paget investigates the brutal murder of a single mother in the intriguing followup to 1997's Stone Dead. When Beth Smallwood's body is found in front of the altar of Broadminster's village church, she appears to be the victim of a robbery gone awry. But after Paget finds signs that Beth had been raped and beaten earlier that same day, he believes that the killer had a more personal motive. Heading the list of suspects is Beth's no-good teenage son, Lenny, for whom she had been embezzling funds from the local bank where she worked. Next come Harry Beecham and Terry Ling, two aggrieved co-workers who resented Beth's recent promotion to manager of small business loans. Finally, there's Beth's boss, Arthur Gresham, a notorious womanizer who may have feared that Beth would disclose his own illegal activities. Smith's tale is set in a world saturated with the baser instincts of the human race. Almost all his female characters are weak, pitiable creatures motivated by fear and petty jealousy. They are easily manipulated by their abusive male counterparts, who view women as inferiors to be used for sex and fast cash. Gritty as it is, Smith's deftly written story unravels as the climax focuses on a surprise culprit whose last-minute introduction may disappoint expectant readers. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-373-26363-9
Hardcover - 978-1-86042-723-7
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4668-7617-0
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