cover image The Sepia Siren Killer: A Hobart Lindsey/Marvia Plum Mystery

The Sepia Siren Killer: A Hobart Lindsey/Marvia Plum Mystery

Richard A. Lupoff. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11332-2

Despite occasionally stilted prose and some dubious police procedure, the latest in the Hobart Lindsey/Marvia Plum series (after The Bessie Blue Killer) is an effective puzzler in which the appealing interracial team (Lindsey is white; Plum is black) explore the early days of black filmmaking in California. Insurance investigator Lindsey checks out the fire at the Pacific Film Archive in which a graduate student died and learns from his significant other, Berkeley police officer Plum, that the fire was caused by arson. The next day, 90-year-old Edward MacReedy appears at Lindsey's office to collect on his recently deceased wife's 1934, $25 whole-life policy; while he's there, his retirement-home room is torched, destroying the records and mementos of his years as a film director. Determining that the second fire was a case of arson similar to the first, Lindsey doggedly sniffs out what MacReedy knows and tries to figure out why, and to whom, the old director's memories are a threat. With a perspective on black filmmaking and skillful pacing, Lupoff makes the most of both period and suspense elements in his mystery. (Oct.)