cover image Dearly Departed

Dearly Departed

David Housewright / Author W. W. Norton & Company $23.95 (224p

Sleazy lawyer Hunter Truman sends cop-turned-Twin Cities PI Holland Taylor after a missing woman in Housewright's disappointing third novel. Alison Emerton has either been murdered by Raymond Fleck, a convicted rapist who was stalking her, or has left to start over someplace far from Fleck and her insensitive husband, a man clearly more concerned with collecting the insurance money for her presumed death than with grieving for her loss. Taylor is smitten by an alluring photograph of Allison and quickly becomes emotionally involved in the case. His search leads out of St. Paul to a lakeside town enveloped in a debate over Native American casino rights. Housewright's Penance (1995) won an Edgar for best first novel, and once again he shows a sure narrative touch through the voice of his engaging and quirky shamus. Yet the novel hits several wrong notes. An overly dogmatic antidrug tirade, an obvious final twist and a murky series of legal/business machinations over casino and water rights all detract from what has been a singularly pleasurable series filled with light crime tones. (Oct.)