cover image The Radio Red Killer

The Radio Red Killer

Richard A. Lupoff. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (268pp) ISBN 978-0-312-17181-0

Sgt. Marvia Plum of the Berkeley, Calif., police force gets the starring role after sharing billing with insurance investigator Hobart Lindsey in several previous mysteries (including The Silver Chariot Killer, 1996). After having briefly left the force and California, the black police officer has returned to her post as a homicide detective. She has also returned to live with her mother and to resume the task of solo parenting her rebellious teenage son. When eclectic public radio station KRED's resident radical commentator, Bob Bjorner, drops dead during the middle of a broadcast in a locked studio, the suspicious death plunges Marvia into a muddle of station politics, jealousies and drugs. Against a backdrop of old-time radio programs, Marvia must sort through a cast of suspects that includes ambitious Ethiopian station manager Sun Mbolo; fanatical radio archivist Lon Dayton; a couple of drug dealers named Blue Beetle and Acid Alice; a former Japanese soldier; a jazz aficionado; and even a city councilwoman. Marvia struggles to balance the demands of her career and her son's needs as the teen experiments with drugs for the first time. While the police work is less than dazzling, Lupoff, who hosts a radio interview show, knows his way around a radio studio and the airwaves. (Oct.)