cover image Report for Murder

Report for Murder

Val McDermid. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (196pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03888-5

This promising debut from a British writer introduces Lindsay Gordon, who mockingly describes herself as ``a cynical socialist lesbian feminist journalist.'' Commissioned to write a story on Derbyshire House Girls' School in the North of England, Lindsay encounters strong undercurrents of hatred--against developer James Cartwright, who wants to turn the school's playing fields into holiday flats and a leisure complex, and against celebrated cellist and old girl Lorna Smith-Couper, who also appears to have a talent for making enemies and fomenting discord. During a fund-raising concert, Lorna is found strangled with a cello string, and schoolmistress Paddy Callaghan, an old friend of Lindsay's, is charged with the murder. Lindsay sets out solve the crime with the aid of noted playwright Cordelia Brown, another old girl, who had written and staged a play for the fund-raiser. McDermid has created a complex and prickly detective, whose working-class background sets her at odds with her companions, particularly her new lover, Cordelia. The shifting relationship intertwines a realistic romance with a solid detective story. ( Jan. )