cover image Death Row

Death Row

Jon Katz. Doubleday Books, $21.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-385-47922-6

Kit DeLeeuw, the ""Suburban Detective"" whose last appearance was in The Fathers' Club (1996), still presents himself not only the primary caregiver for his suburban New Jersey family but also the last sensitive male. Thankfully, however, he also holds on to his role as sleuth in this series of nimbly plotted mysteries. Kit's closest friend, octogenarian Benchley, has had a stroke that leads to a stay at Elston Manor, a maximum security managed care facility, owned by a prominent politician, which boasts pristine lawns and a fine reputation. But Kit, who experiences initial difficulty in getting information about Benchley and then finds his friend acting scared, wonders what the staff and administration are being so secretive about. His investigation turns up a charge of incompetence leading to death (settled out of court) and the recent dismissal of the director for accepting kickbacks from a drug company. Kit discovers that the drug involved in the fatality is still in use and that the fired doctor is still on the premises; then he himself is threatened and shot at. After Benchly dies from an overdose, Kit lines up a team of unlikely associates to carry out a neat sting operation. While the pacing is slick, getting past Kit's vapid and sometimes pompously delivered worldview isn't easy. Readers may sympathize with Kit's daughter who directs a teenage surliness towards her dad. (Aug.)