Best Performance by a Patsy

Stan Cutler, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-93317-5
Midway through this debut mystery, a character says, ``There was sort of a nice sense of adventure building.'' Readers will have to take his word for it. Although the premise here sounds intriguing ( Murder, She Wrote meets The Odd Couple ), the execution is hackneyed. Mark Bradley is an L.A. journalist, 28 and gay, who writes books about minor (and somewhat tacky) celebrities. Rayford Goodman, 58, is a private detective resting on the laurels of his single-handed solution of a celebrated Hollywood murder, circa 1963. Now his dubious fame is about to be immortalized in his autobiography, which Bradley is assigned to ghost. There's one slight drawback: Goodman got the wrong man. Bradley and Goodman narrate alternating chapters but Cutler often fails to distinguish between their voices; readers may need to refer to chapter headings to mind their ``I's'' and ``he's.'' What passes for repartee and/or characters' quirkiness comes out as awkward phraseology, and gag lines seem recycled from old vaudeville routines (``What's the agenda?'' ``A Japanese automobile''). (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
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