cover image The Autumn Dead

The Autumn Dead

Edward Gorman. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (195pp) ISBN 978-0-312-01035-5

The sequel to Murder Straight Up and New, Improved Murder will add to Gorman's laurels and the popularity of his Midwestern hero-narrator, Jack Dwyer. Private detective Dwyer agrees to help Karen Lane, his high school crush, to recover a lost suitcase. Still lovely after 25 years, Karen is also greedy for money and status, but the disillusioned Dwyer takes the assignment, which puts his life in danger. When Karen dies suddenly, the detective goes after evidence that she has been murdered, and perhaps others with knowledge of the facts behind the death of their schoolmate, Sonny Howard, whose drowning has been officially declared a suicide. The tensions multiply, with Dwyer baiting a trap for criminals willing to buy the suitcase holding the source of blackmailer Karen's wealth. The author's salty humor and fast, tuned-in dialogue quicken the pace of a dandy mystery with no contrivances, even in the startling finale. (December 21)