cover image Sins for Father Knox

Sins for Father Knox

Josef Skvorecky. W. W. Norton & Company, $17.95 (268pp) ISBN 978-0-393-02512-5

In 1929, Father Ronald A. Knox set down the guidelines for writing good detective fiction. His 10 ``commandments''no ``Chinamen'' allowed; only one secret passage; no supernatural agenciesto name a few, have been deliberately broken by Skvorecky, writing in a cleverly provocative vein. The result is a genuinely innovative, brain-teaser of a novel that pokes fun at American pulp fiction. Unlike The Mournful Demeanor of Detective Boruvka , a mystery that was set almost entirely in Prague, this collection of stories has an international flavor. Lt. Boruvka is featured in the first and last story; the real star is Eve Adam, a sexy Czech nightclub singer on tour in Europe and the U.S. At each port of call she's called upon to solve crimes of passionusing her brain cells and sometimes a little bit morethat the local ``shamuses'' and cops can't get a handle on. A typical story finds Adam on the trail of a young, naive woman who has been kidnapped; she's also a fundamentalist, and a brilliant mathematician to boot. Czechoslovakian exile and Canadian resident Skvorecky ( Dvorak in Love ) is a skillful writer with an international range. Two more Boruvka mysteries are in the works. (Feb.)