Hilary Masters. BkMk Press (SPD, dist), $16.95 trade paper (274p) ISBN 978-1-8861-5775-0
Masters in his tenth novel produces a twisty terrorism-cum-conspiracy plot, the lure of which is literary-minded crimes...and misdemeanors. It begins with a murder mystery MacGuffin, at the literary landmark Chelsea Hotel, no less. The victim is the renowned bridge superstar Emil Nalbandian, shot through the heart and bridge hand along with his pupil, an unnamed Sarah Lawrence coed. After languishing unsolved for several years, the case falls to a gumshoe named B. Smith, whose first-person account manages to be both florid in its imagery and appropriately noir in its form. His probe takes him to the remote island castle home of writer Leo Post, son-in-law of the controversial former governor, Kimball Lyon. Lyon’s paranoia extended to many bizarre projects, the effects of which are still felt years after his death, like a Perpetual Parking Plaza designed to thwart terrorists. Post’s yarns are spun in a more baroque style, creating an appealing counterpoint to Smith, who regularly begins his narratives with “I, B Smith.” Masters is a cheeky Scheherazade or Rabelais, weaving tales within tales that are sublime even when they are also ridiculous. Whether relating obscure real events like the 19th century Rip Van Winkle tour of theatrical impresario “Jo” Jefferson or invented stories like the murder of Post’s wife Molly, his sharply humorous voice never flags. Though not to all tastes, Masters offers intellectual froth of a high order. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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