cover image If I Should Die

If I Should Die

Judith Kelman / Author Bantam $6.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-553-2910

Suspected killer Theodore Macklin, who's afraid of heights, takes a swan dive off a bridge in Rhode Island. Gail Weider, an angst-ridden New Yorker who fears the open road, drives her Chevy wagon at high speed to her death. What do these two disparate souls have in common? They both had consulted Maggie Lyons, a cute-as-a-button Manhattan psychiatrist who runs a phobia clinic. Maggie becomes the target of a state probe when her patients croak by the very demons that had brought them to her for therapy. But only Sam Bannister, a divorced bounty-hunting gumshoe, suspects Maggie isn't responsible. He also has the sense to see that the ambitious ``lady shrink'' is in danger from one of the tedious nut cases that crowd Kelman's ( The House on the Hill ) seventh mystery. The most interesting neurotic is Maggie's guilt-inducing mother, Francine. But Kelman is too busy reheating psychological cliches to explore character with any depth. At novel's end, Maggie subdues her would-be murderer and says to Sam, ``He hated me for curing his phobia. He blamed me for his mother's death. It's so crazy.'' ``Good diagnosis,'' Sam agrees. It isn't. (Sept.)