Stephen R. Donaldson, Author . Forge $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0205-2

At the start of fantasy author Donaldson's tense "and-then-there-was-none" whodunit, PI "Brew" Axbrewder is recovering from a gunshot wound when he learns that crime kingpin el Señor has put a bounty on him. At the urging of his partner and sometimes lover Ginny Fistoulari, the two blow town for a temp job at Deerskin Lodge, providing security for "Murder on Cue," a mock murder junket for armchair detectives. The foul playfulness turns deadly serious as soon as a storm leaves the lodge snowbound: someone cuts the phone lines, hobbles all transportation out and pops one of the players. Brew knows the bullet was meant for him, but as the body count escalates, he has no clear clue who of the 10 amateur sleuths is the pro assassin. Kooky and kinky, the large supporting cast offer lively counterpoint to terminally sullen Brew and Ginny, but even the complications they introduce can't dispel the period mustiness of a story whose suspense could be dissipated today with a single cell-phone call. Donaldson (The Runes of the Earth ) is in the driver's seat as far as mastering the modern hard-boiled idiom, but his vehicle is a little outdated. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (Nov. 1)

FYI: This novel, one of four in a series, has been slightly revised since it was first published in 1990 under the pseudonym Reed Stephens.

Reviewed on: 10/25/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-7307-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-0519-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 357 pages - 978-0-7653-4127-3
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