cover image Turnpike Flameout

Turnpike Flameout

Eric Dezenhall, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (3

In Dezenhall's mildly diverting fourth mystery (after 2004's Shakedown Beach ), Jonah Eastman, grandson of a late Atlantic City Mafia bigwig, agrees to assist a public relations colleague handling Turnpike Bobby Chin, one-time child star turned '80s rock star ("For a fleeting moment Bobby had become Jersey's second-favorite rocker after Springsteen"). Chin, who's trying for a second comeback, has somehow survived a private plane crash and become the lead suspect in the disappearance—and possible murder—of a local sculptor. Eastman, simultaneously repelled and fascinated by Chin's near-pathological narcissism, soon realizes that his new client is his own worst enemy, though Chin is ably assisted by investigative music journalists after his scalp as well as the not-especially-bright star's own supporters and hangers-on. While the author's narrative skill suffices to keep the plot rolling and tumbling, his would-be colorful characters come off as rejects from one of Elmore Leonard's lesser novels, and their snappy patter sags more often than it snaps. (Jan.)