cover image Earth Angel

Earth Angel

Laramie Dunaway, Raymond Obstfeld. Warner Books, $21.95 (376pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51835-2

After Dr. Season Gottlieb's fiance, Tim, goes on a shooting spree and murders five people before being shot by the police, Season feels both grief and guilt. But rather than explore what provoked Tim's rampage, Season dubs herself Grace Weiss and tries to make amends to the victims' families. While the heroine's good intentions are credible, her way of playing ``angel'' is nonsensical and the plot ridiculously convoluted. One victim's cousin refuses Season's no-strings gift of $50,000, then calls the cops; when Season tries to set up another victim's stepbrother with the woman of his dreams, the woman recognizes her from TV newscasts and blackmails her. And when Season visits a third man linked to Tim's crime-the ex-husband of a witness who committed suicide-she falls for him. Her benevolent mission ends there; she's less interested in philanthropy than in concealing her identity from her new lover. As the book drifts into the doldrums, Obstfeld loses all control of his material, allowing a serial-kidnapping subplot to come to the fore. Season, a movie-trivia whiz, is among the few people who can decode the kidnapper's cryptic clues, and the police force her to help them by threatening to expose her ruse. With each new scenario, Obstfeld shows that no good deed goes unpunished. Unfortunately, such relentlessly zany methods prove dull rather than remotely humorous. (June)