cover image Poison


Alane Ferguson / Author Bradbury Press $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-

With its ``gravelly voiced'' villain, its ambitious, grasping victim (``My basic philosophy is to go after what I want and get what I want when I want it'') and its surfeit of jazzy first names (Amber, Chelsea, Suzonne) this chilly, hollow mystery calls to mind the glitzy night-time soaps of the 1980s. Hurt and confused by the abrupt departure of her idolized stepmother-the sleek lawyer Diane-Chelsea Smythe resents having to spend the summer working as a receptionist in the office complex her father owns and manages. She can't resist eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of the complex's various tenants-and overhears a sinister conversation that, conveniently enough, inspires her to go to the very cave in which Diane's corpse is hidden. The tale is not complete without Mr. Smythe's brief imprisonment, a high-tech stalking, the revelation of Diane's life of crime and a riveting if far-fetched confrontation with a would-be murderer. Product names, dropped in abundance, serve to define characters, while their emotions are most often telegraphed by the state of their clothes: ``His suit had pulled to one side... and tears had left dime-sized marks on his powder blue shirt.'' Ages 12-up. (Nov.)