cover image Open and Shut

Open and Shut

Val McDermid. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05487-8

This intriguing second novel by the author of Report for Murder again casts lesbian Scottish journalist Lindsay Gordon. Lindsay is living temporarily in Italy when fellow writer Alison Maxwell is found strangled in Glasgow and the victim's ex-lover, journalist Jackie Mitchell, is convicted of the crime. On Lindsay's return to Scotland, Jackie's friends, including Lindsay's last lover, Cordelia Brown, and Cordelia's new mate, Claire Ogilvie, ask Lindsay to look into the murder. Lindsay agrees even though she hasn't recovered from her breakup with Cordelia, a recovery made harder when she reads Cordelia's new book and realizes how much excellent work her friend accomplished on the heels of her departure. She is even more daunted in her investigation when she discovers how Alison used and abused friendships. After Lindsay finds and decodes Alison's secret diary of sexual conquests--both male and female--she realizes that not only Jackie but many people probably wanted Alison dead. Only a thorough search through Alison's letters allow Lindsay and her new lover, Sophie, to solve the case. While the depiction of lesbian relationships may not appeal to some, this taut story exploring the limits of friendship is well worth reading. (Apr.)