Babylon South

Jan Cleary, Author, Jon Cleary, Author William Morrow & Company $19.95 (382p) ISBN 978-0-688-08976-4
In a mystery chock-a-block with Aussie color, Cleary ( The Sundowners ; High Road to China ) brings back Detective-Inspector Scobie Malone of the New South Wales Police for a rousing round of murder, power squabbles and broad jokes. Two decades after High Court judge Sir Walter Springfellow disappeared, hikers uncover a skeleton wearing his signet ring. When Scobie reopens the inquiry, he finds that Venetia Springfellow has parlayed the fortune her husband left her into an empire her venomous sister-in-law Emma wants to control. Then Emma is killed and Scobie is saddled with two highly sensitive cases that his jumpy superior prefers to leave unsolved. The friction between Scobie and his boss is intended to show both as sensitive, conscious-striken souls, but it's overplayed and tiresome. Scobie's partner Clements, a deliciously crass cop who hates yuppies and ``silver-tails,'' easily steals the show, and Chilla Dural, a recently paroled murderer who longs to return to his comfortable cell, provides the book's funniest, juiciest moments. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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