Jeffrey Ashford, Author . Severn $25.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5613-5

In British author Ashford's (An Honest Betrayal) latest fast-paced police procedural, Esme Lynch (who has suffered "for having a name that was also a girl's") hires Carol Fowler, a tart, to smuggle from Sierra Leone a priceless red diamond concealed inside her body. Soon after arrival in England, Carol is killed in a country lane when she steps into the path of a car driven by the repellent Portia Frayne. Portia's dissembling husband, Dick, who married her for her money, tampers with evidence to conceal her involvement in the accident, while Carol and the diamond lie in the morgue. But when Portia is abducted and murdered, the police learn that Dick is having a fling with Francesca, a neighbor whose husband is an Alzheimer's patient in a nursing home. The search for other suspects comes to a halt, for Dick had motive, means and opportunity to dispose of his wife. As the circumstantial evidence linking the two Fraynes, Francesca, Lynch and the diamond accrues, the reader has to wonder how the author can satisfactorily wrap up the intricate plot. In the end Ashford succeeds admirably, justifying his reputation as a teller of ingenious if, in this case, superficial whodunits. (Dec.)

FYI:As Roderic Jeffries, Ashford is the author of The Ambiguity of Murder (Forecasts, Mar. 19) and other titles in the Inspector Alvarez series.

Reviewed on: 11/12/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-7278-7120-6
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