cover image Stray Shot

Stray Shot

Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (191pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03435-1

Hammond's strained new Keith Calder mystery involves the bookish and refined English mystery writer, Simon Parbitter (seen before in Adverse Report ) in another intrigue. Calder and a group of associates have developed a new shotgun cartridge certain to replace lead and make them all rich. When sample cartridges are stolen by a ruthless industrial spy and taken to Texas, the irascible Calder, who is afraid of flying, enlists Parbitter to make a trip to the Lone Star State. Once there Parbitter meets a group of aging good-ol'-boys, who help him track the spy and find the valuable samples. Hammond's narrative is dialogue-heavy--most of the dramatic events take place offstage and are relayed secondhand--and even the obligatory summing up is talked out. Less telling, more showing would have made a better story. (Sept.)