Alan Russell, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-28924-9

With this novel of intrigue reminiscent of Eric Ambler, Russell (Shame; Multiple Wounds; No Sign of Murder; etc.) shows he's one of the best writers in the mystery field today. Like Ambler, who excelled at portraying the plight of the valiant amateur pitted against a diabolic ring of spies and assassins in such classics as A Coffin for Demetrios and Journey into Fear, Russell has a gift for telling a fully fleshed-out story with very human characters while supplying puzzles and corpses galore. Looking to land a major scoop, British paparazzo Graham Wells is chasing two of Europe's biggest celebrities, philanthropist Lady Anne Godwin (aka "Lady Godiva" after she posed nude for Playboy and donated the proceeds to a soup kitchen) and her French football-star boyfriend, Georges "Le Croc" LeMoine, when their car crashes in a Paris tunnel with fatal results. Our antihero flees the scene of the accident. Unlike the case of Di and Dodi, there actually are sinister forces at work here. Soon a CIA agent named "Mr. Smith" is blackmailing Wells into bringing about the downfalls of other celebrities. When Wells deviates from the script by stopping a leading actress's suicide, he really finds himself in trouble. Needless to say, no one is who he says he is, and everyone's motives are suspect. There's a delightfully wicked conspiracy that seems plausible in today's news and a charming, if blood-curdling, villain. It would be a crime to say more. This one is good to the last drop. (May 13)

FYI: Multiple Wounds was nominated for Anthony and Macavity awards.

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!