cover image Probable Cause

Probable Cause

Ridley Pearson. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03914-1

Delivered in a dreary, stilted prose style, Pearson's new procedural (after Undercurrents ) reflects the tedium of most police work. In Carmel-by-the-sea, Calif., Detective James Dewitt, a former forensic investigator, comes across a couple of suicides in as many days. He and forensics aide Clare O'Daly suspect murder and focus on a bent policeman. When the cop dies, asphyxiated in his car like the first victims, Dewitt steps up his investigation, working his way through a varied cast--a rich assemblywoman, a petty thief, a sexy female lawyer, a spoiled rich kid, a jailed serial killer, a vengeful psychotic. Though Dewitt is endangered and half his family murdered, few readers will care. The action and love scenes are as unconvincing as Dewitt's anguished misgivings about justice; the novel fizzles out in three ``climaxes'' and a couple of sentimental codas. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo. (Mar.)