cover image Fell Down

Fell Down

M. E. Kerr. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (191pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021763-1

Though Kerr may have stumbled in teenage sleuth John Fell's second outing, Fell Back , she is back on track and running strong in this absorbing, smoothly crafted third book of the series. Wisely, the author employs the same characters, themes and eastern Long Island setting that made Fell such a delicious read. Keats, Fell's neurotic blueblood ex-girlfriend, plays a pivotal role in this tale of a dead ventriloquist, his maniacal dummy and his missing best friend, the slightly bent heir to a major fortune. Fell's narrative is in counterpoint to that of ``The Mouth,'' which turns out to be the dummy belonging to Lenny Last, the ventriloquist who caused the death of Fell's school chum Deem in a suicidal car crash. Investigating Last's and Deem's deaths brings Fell back to his old haunts at Gardner prep school and the Hamptons, where Keats lives and Fell had a truncated love affair with mysterious Delia Tremble. Along the way the reader is treated to ventriloquists' lore plus the same sort of pithy social commentary and quirky characterizations that enlivened Fell . With a few threads left untied and the appearance of Delia's look-alike sister April at story's end, Kerr leaves the door wide open for Fell's return. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)