cover image Diamond in the Buff

Diamond in the Buff

Susan Dunlap. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03814-4

The prospect of a pleasant day with her partner/lover is dashed for California detective Jill Smith when she is called in to investigate a felony assault on a nude, sunbathing dentist who claims he was attacked by a branch of a eucalyptus tree. In this fifth novel featuring the smart and sassy Detective Smith, what appears to be the latest episode in a silly feud between neighbors turns deadly serious when the body of a likable but opportunistic young man is found catapulted from his sundeck down the mountainside. While investigating this seemingly motiveless murder, Smith encounters a cross section of eccentrics that includes a foot masseuse, a lady mountaineer and an obsessive lawn waterer, in this romp through the Berkeley Hills. Although a couple of coincidences strain the reader's credibility, this witty police procedural reveals much about life among the denizens of this university town and a knowledge of some of the quirks of its legal system--especially as it pertains to trees. Detective Book Club selection. (Mar.)