cover image The Bessie Blue Killer: A Hobart Lindsey/Marvia Plum Mystery

The Bessie Blue Killer: A Hobart Lindsey/Marvia Plum Mystery

Richard A. Lupoff. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-312-10425-2

The hook in this mystery-thriller is the full-bloom romance between white insurance adjuster Hobart Lindsey and black homicide detective Marvia Plum, who last teamed up in The Classic Car Killer . Lindsey's employer has written a $100-million policy covering a film company against any misadventure in the production of a film about the Tuskegee Airmen, the Air Force's all-black WW II flying corps. With Marvia's help, Lindsey probes the mysterious murder of a black janitor on location at the Oakland, Calif., airport at the start of filming. Lupoff concocts a fantastic chase scene with an armada of antique WW II planes pursuing a B-17 while the deranged pilot, who has Marvia's 9-year-old son on board, is coaxed into landing on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Aside from such goofiness, the tale contains plenty of information about the Tuskegee Airmen and the ammunition dump catastrophe in Port Chicago, Calif., in July 1944, which killed 320, many of them black stevedores. Lupoff's deft handling of his characters' relationship is captured in Marvia's lines to her lover: ``You let me be black, but you don't make me be black . . .'' (Mar.)