The Helter Skelter Murders

William Harrington, Author Forge $19.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-312-85537-6
The second hard-copy appearance of TV's scruffy Lieutenant Columbo is a wickedly successful mystery that's based on a Manson Family copycat killing and includes Charles Manson wannabes and a few of his aging followers. Twenty-five years after the infamous 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders (Columbo was the third homicide detective on the scene), millionaire retailer Yussef Khoury and his mistress surreptitiously enter the elegant Khoury home on Mulholland Drive. Sometime later, an anonymous phone call sends the police, including Columbo, to the house where Yussef's wife, Arlene; her lover, a thieving production designer for Khoury's film company; and the houseboy lie dead of multiple stab wounds, with the words Healter Skelter and All Piggys Die written in blood on the wall. Yussef, arriving after the cops, implicates his wife's secretary, Puss Dogwood, who was once a teenage member of Manson's family. Pitted against suave and wealthy villains, the rumpled Columbo bumbles his way straight through the film industry, posh retail trade, scuba-diving clubs and Manson Family lore to keep readers enthralled. With solid plotting, fully fleshed-out characters and dry humor, Harrington's series, begun with Columbo: The Grassy Knoll , is prime-time entertainment. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-8125-3026-1
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