Irene Marcuse, Author . Walker $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3354-2

Was Benno Servi having an affair with his babysitter, Ellen Chapman? That's what the police suspect after Benno's wife, Anita, finds grad student Ellen with a screwdriver plunged into her chest and Benno's fingerprints on the murder weapon. In this second Anita Servi thriller (after The Death of an Amiable Child), Marcuse explores the doubts a wife has when faced with the unexpected, and the suspicion and distrust that may poison a marriage. Mideastern carpenter Benno and white Catholic social worker Anita are raising their black, adopted seven-year-old daughter, Clea, in multicultural Harlem. Following a romantic Friday night on the town, the Servis return home to Ellen, their loyal sitter of many years. The hour is late and Benno walks Ellen the few blocks back to her apartment, returning over an hour later. When Ellen doesn't pick up Clea from school Monday afternoon, a worried Anita goes to Ellen's apartment and finds the sitter dead. Benno pleads innocence, to no avail. As Anita delves into Ellen's life, she uncovers a cast of possible suspects—including Ellen's ex-boyfriend Jamie; her charismatic married boss (and possible ex-lover), Arthur Nessim; and her dad's fiancée, whom she resented for breaking up her parents' marriage and who seemed to want Ellen out of the picture. As if Anita didn't have enough problems with Benno in jail, she is also worried that Clea could be removed from her custody because the adoption has not been finalized. Anita is a likable heroine, but the plot is watered down by extraneous characters, intentionally misleading clues and unfulfilled expectations. Some readers will be disappointed by the ending, but at least they'll enjoy the vibrancy of the Manhattan scenery along the way. Agent, Sandy Dijkstra. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/30/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-373-26444-5
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