Lifeline

Gerry Boyle, Author Putnam Adult $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-399-14150-8

Jack McMorrow, seen before in Bloodline and Deadline, is a former New York Times reporter now working for a small paper in Maine. Covering the courthouse, he senses a good story in Donna Marchant, a young woman complaining of domestic abuse but ignored by the autocratic assistant district attorney, Linda Tate. McMorrow writes about Donna's plight, arousing the wrath of her loutish boyfriend, Jeff Tanner. When Donna is murdered, suspicion falls not only on Tanner but also on McMorrow, whom police suspect of having become too close to his subject. Looking for answers, McMorrow gets puzzlingly little cooperation from Donna's sister, who cares only about taking over as mother to Donna's little daughter, Adrianna. Then some local toughs, perhaps Tanner and his friends, rough up the reporter and torch his home. During his investigation, McMorrow is dealing with the absence of his true love, Roxanne Masterson, who is offered a new job in Portland. Boyle, a Maine newspaper writer himself, makes McMorrow a credible crusader, equally comfortable in the quiet woods and small-town courthouses. The narrative moves briskly as McMorrow eliminates several suspects on his way to a surprise solution. (July)