cover image She Walks in Beauty

She Walks in Beauty

Sarah Shankman. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-73657-6

Chagrined because she has to watch ``a lot of flesh jiggle up and down a runway'' (i.e., cover the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.) Samantha Adams, star reporter for the Atlanta Constitution , returns in this colorful mystery by the author of the jocular Now Let's Talk of Graves . When one of the pageant judges disappears, Adams again plays amateur sleuth on the hunch that the judge is a homicide victim. The problem is, nobody cares if he's missing or dead. A roue, the judge was detested by the contestants he propositioned, the girlfriends he battered and the loan shark to whom he owed big bucks. The local police don't consider Sam's suspicions evidence, so she recruits her friends, a voodoo-priestess beauty contestant and an ex-football pro turned chef to prove that the judge is a missing corpse. As Miss America hopefuls strut their stuff, Sam learns that a sociopath views the pageant as a cash cow with one too many judges. Shankman's witty heroine again evinces a winning combination of grit and finesse. (Nov.)