cover image Magic Hour

Magic Hour

Susan Isaacs. HarperCollins Publishers, $21.95 (412pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016573-4

Good news for Isaacs's fans: she is back in top form, using the mystery formula that made Compromising Positions a standout, and again exhibiting her wickedly observant eye and flair for ricocheting, pitch-perfect dialogue. The setting this time, the various sections of Long Island's Hamptons (N.Y.), allows her to depict the tension between the hardworking locals, many of whom live on the edge of poverty, and the snooty summer people, phony Manhattan culture hounds and social climbers. Movie producer Sy Spencer is clearly among the latter, and when he is shot by the side of his glitzy Southampton swimming pool, homicide detective Steve Brady is not surprised to discover plentiful evidence of widespread resentment and hatred of Spencer. Among the suspects are Spencer's current mistress and the star of his film-in-progress, who knew she was about to be dumped; one of his ex-wives, a sexy failed screenwriter; and a Mafia gangster who was a childhood friend. As he pursues the investigation, Brady must cope with his own demons, the residue of service in Vietnam: he is a recovering alcoholic and druggie. He is also trying to work up enthusiasm for marrying his fiancee, a boringly nice WASP schoolteacher, and when he finds himself obsessively drawn to Spencer's cast-off wife, he imperils the case and his own reputation. Isaacs spins her tale with brio, again proving herself the master of neat surprises and perceptive character portrayal. 150,000 first printing; $20,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; author tour. (Feb.)