cover image Time Expired

Time Expired

Susan Dunlap / Author Delacorte Press $18.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0

Realistic scenes of police life from routine paperwork to by-the-book standoffs with criminals sustain this straightforward mystery, sixth in Dunlap's ( Death and Taxes ) Jill Smith series. After reports of a kidnapping, a hostage negotiation team led by homicide policewoman Smith surrounds a Berkeley, Calif., canyon. They discover the victim is only a blow-up doll, and, finding stolen parking tickets nearby, surmise the perp is the same prankster who's been preying on local meter maids (hence the title). Angry and embarrassed, Smith visits a nursing home on the canyon's rim in the hope that one of the residents glimpsed the practical joker. There, she meets lawyer Madeleine Riordan, once the bane of the police force but now dying of cancer. Believing that Riordan knows something about the meter maid incidents, Smith agrees to return the following night. When she does, Riordan is dead, asphyxiated with a pillow. While the crimes against meter maids continue, Smith trails Riordan's killer. Although this is no spine-tingler, a steady buildup of credible clues and Dunlap's psychological insights move her story steadily forward. Mystery Guild selection. (May)