Amanda Cross, Author . Ballantine $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-345-45236-8

The 13th Kate Fansler novel, following Honest Doubt (2000), takes an inward and somewhat less satisfying turn to focus on Kate herself. Previous outings featured crimes committed in or related to academic institutions, but this time a family matter kicks off the story—a stranger has approached Kate's pompous oldest brother, Laurence, claiming to be Kate's biological father. DNA analysis removes one kind of uncertainty about the relationship between Kate and Jason "Jay" Ebenezer Smith, but other kinds crop up when Jay disappears. Kate's lawyer husband, Reed, unearths more evidence of Jay's past under a different name than "Smith," and different versions of a story about art theft lurking in his background get bandied about. "Not much action in this play," Kate thinks to herself after an unsatisfactory verbal exchange, a comment that could apply as well to this novel. Similarly, in contrast to most crime fiction, there's hardly any description of the main settings (apartments, offices and restaurants in Manhattan), perhaps an intentional illustration of Kate's self-analysis about her lack of visual awareness of people and places. Without the thrills and excitement normally encountered in a mystery, the reader is left with the literary wit and classy conversation for which Cross is best known. For many, that's reason enough to celebrate. (Nov. 1)

FYI:Amanda Cross is the pseudonym of Carolyn G. Heilbrun, author of Writing a Woman's Life (1988) and other feminist works.

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-7862-4968-8
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-7540-8923-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 240 pages - 978-0-345-45237-5
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-7540-8922-3
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