cover image Casual Slaughters

Casual Slaughters

Robert A. Carter. Mysterious Press, $17.95 (266pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-502-1

A civilized publisher, a squirrely agent, a rugged movie star and a dead celebrity biographer prove that the book trade can be murderous in this vigorous and sexy mystery. Pleasingly plump, leisure-loving publisher Nick Barlow, with his cushy Gramercy Park apartment and Players Club membership, isn't typical gumshoe material. But when a bestselling author is stabbed and a manuscript goes missing, Barlow's curiosity gets the better of him. Teamed with an NYPD lieutenant who aspires to authorship and thus endures thrill-seeking book folk, Barlow chases down leads, has a brush with death and learns that real murder isn't pretty. Fully familiar with detective fiction cliches, Barlow delivers hard-boiled utterances--``Her voice made me think of gin on the rocks''--with tongue-in-cheek relish. Carter scores with this engrossing mystery as he good-naturedly mimics the genre's heavy-handed excesses and formulaic plotting. His personable hero's glee at happening upon a real rather than paper-and-ink case is contagious, and once begun, this romp is not easily put aside. (Nov.)