cover image Irresistible Impulse

Irresistible Impulse

Robert K. Tanenbaum. Dutton Books, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94310-5

The workaholic marriage between New York DA Butch Karp and streetwise security agent Marlene Ciampi once again takes center stage in Tannenbaum's snappy, electric ninth novel to feature the latter-day Hepburn and Tracy. A suspicious death certificate raises a red flag in the DA's office, but the ensuing investigation of the doctor involved takes a back seat to the high-profile Rohbling case, which Butch wants to prosecute personally. This cuts into his family time with his daughter Lucy, who's having problems at her Chinatown school, and with Marlene, whose agency is trying to protect cellist Edith Wooten from an obsessed fan. Clever readers will spot this music-lover almost from his first appearance, so the suspense here is all Hitchcockian: since we know there's a bomb in the briefcase, we wonder when it will go off. Tanenbaum concentrates on how these contrasting cases affect Butch and Marlene--their careers, their marriage and their relationship with Lucy. He links the two main plots together cleverly and adds an ingenious subplot when Marlene hires a Vietnamese immigrant who isn't afraid to get rough or break the law in the line of duty. Tannenbaum's authentic background detail and his likable characters provide irresistible entertainment. Mystery Guild main selection; Doubleday Book Club and Literary Guild selections; audio rights to Books on Tape. (Nov.)