cover image Dead Time: A Marti Macalister Mystery

Dead Time: A Marti Macalister Mystery

Eleanor Taylor Bland. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07053-3

An auspicious debut, this gritty procedural introduces Marti MacAlister, a black woman detective in Lincoln Prairie, Ill., near Chicago. The Cramer Hotel, a local flophouse, becomes the scene of a crime when Lauretta Dorsey, a schizophrenic who had fled her wealthy family years before, is found murdered in her room. Marti, who has moved from Chicago after her husband's recent death, investigates the victim's background and discovers several secrets in her past. Lauretta had received a psychiatric discharge from the Navy during the Vietnam war; her fiance had mysteriously died. Evidence that some abandoned children who witnessed the crime are being stalked by the killer plus two more deaths in the hotel prod Marti to step up the search for the children. Bland handles the evolving relationship between Marti and a white male partner unsure of women's place in the police world with sensitivity and humor, while evoking with chilling reality the plight of the endangered children and the mentally ill. (Mar.)