cover image Walking After Midnight

Walking After Midnight

Karen Robards. Delacorte Press, $21.95 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31034-5

With intriguing twists and turns, Robards's (Maggie's Child) latest is a fast-paced romantic thriller, peopled by down-to-earth characters. The heroine, Summer McAfee-proud owner of Daisy Fresh, a janitorial company-has no inkling of the crazy spin her life will take late one Saturday night as she cleans the Harmon Brothers Funeral Home. Unnerved by the obviously spooky environment, she nevertheless is brave enough to investigate a noise. Before she can blink, she's nabbed by a corpse who turns out to be badly beaten but not yet dead. ``Frankenstein'' as she will call him, is none other than the infamous Steve Calhoun, a former detective who is now on the run not only from drug dealers but also from the ghost of Deedee, his former mistress, whose purported suicide in his office was the cause of his very public disgrace and divorce. Convinced that Deedee was murdered, Steve had been investigating her death when he stumbled on the drug dealers-crooks who have day jobs on the Tennessee State Police force. As Steve continues to outwit their pursuers, Summer begins to see beyond his rough exterior. Grudging respect becomes mutual admiration and, eventually, love. Dialogue laced with surprising humor makes this fine blend of ghost story, romance and mystery a diverting read. Doubleday Book Club main selection; Literary Guild alternate. (Feb.)