Just Plane Murder

Dicey Thomas, Author Tudor Publishers $17.95 (253p) ISBN 978-0-936389-22-6
This meandering, melodramatic mystery begins with a briefly described airliner crash that leaves 135 people dead. It ends with a drawn-out explanation of the novel's lurching twists and turns, which include a kidnapping and drugging by FBI agents the murder of an aircraft-industry whistle-blower, the hunt for a spy and saboteur and efforts to block Chinese plans to buy 10 commercial jets, plus the disappearances and sudden reappearances of various characters. To investigate the crash, Comstar Intl., maker of the plane, calls in Failures Inc., a North Carolina metallurgical analysis firm headed by smart, dogged Bertha Barstow and her roly-poly, ever-hungry sidekick Caleb, both introduced in Statutory Murder. Caleb plays Watson to Bertha's Holmes, but neither is interesting or eccentric enough to hold the reader's interest, and little is made of their specialized professional skills. Thomas fails to create an authentic southern atmosphere, her villains are the stuff of comic strips and her digressions, including dream sequences, stall the narrative. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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