Dead Letter

Jane Waterhouse, Author Putnam Publishing Group $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-14436-3
What sets true-crime writer Garner Quinn apart from mere mortals or even other fictional sleuths are her intelligent, down-to-earth observations. She's larger than life with her wealth and celebrity and tendency to get punched and her habit of falling in love with guys with names like Dane Blackmoor. But she also has a teenage daughter and a highly skeptical housekeeper, Cilda Fields, whose main job seems to be keeping Quinn in line. Cilda has her work cut out for her in this latest escapade (after Graven Images and Shadow Walk). The trouble begins with some creepy and vaguely threatening fan mail. Since Quinn lives in an isolated part of the New Jersey shore (the house conjures up visions of a contemporary Manderley), she is wise to be concerned. She hires a high-profile security agency to track down the letter-writer, and suddenly the woman who keeps the world at arm's length finds herself burdened with bodyguards who follow her every move. The head of the agency, an endearingly nerdy type who takes a very personal interest in Quinn's case, is murdered in a particularly spectacular way. Was his death somehow linked to the threats Quinn has received? The search for an answer leads Quinn farther afield than she had expected to go. On the home front, meanwhile, Quinn must cope with Cilda's high-powered and jealous daughter. Waterhouse explores Quinn's varied relationships with sensitivity and devises an involving plot. The novel's finale is somewhat overblown, as Quinn fights for truth and justice and, presumably, the American way, but overall this mystery satisfies nicely. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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