A Masculine Ending

Joan Smith, Author Scribner Book Company $15.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-684-18938-3
In her accomplished first novel, Smith immediately envelops the reader in an intriguing mystery that never loosens its grip. Loretta Lawson, a wonderfully erudite feminist academician who has borrowed a flat in Paris for a weekend conference, discovers firm evidence that while she was asleep there, a bloody murder was committed in the room next to hers. The corpse vanishes. Unwilling to involve herself with the unpredictable French police, Loretta returns to London, but not before she notices and takes with her a review copy of a work of literature so arcane that it is easy to track down the reviewer, Dr. Hugh Puddephat, who is, indeed, missing. When Puddephat's body is discovered in Paris, Loretta, propelled by guilt, decides to probe further. She enlists the aid of her estranged but still companionable journalist husband John Tracey, who provides invaluable background material on Puddephat and discovers that his checkered background includes a messy scandal involving the suicide of one of his students. The novel bristles with wit and is punctuated with wry barbs at the convoluted nature of academic and feminist politics. One can only hope that Loretta, an uneasy but determined sleuth with a razor-sharp mind and an unquenchable investigative spirit, will return in further adventures. (March)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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