cover image Dear Irene,

Dear Irene,

Jan Burke / Author Simon & Schuster $20 (288p) ISBN 978-0-671-

Nearly recovered from the wounds she received in Sweet Dreams, feisty reporter Irene Kelly returns to her California newspaper office to be caught up in another intelligent tale of danger and vengeance. Among her accumulated mail is a letter from someone calling himself Thanatos, addressing her as Cassandra and promising that ``Clio will be the first to die.'' Dismissing the letter as the work of a kook, she nevertheless pursues the mythological references: Thanatos is Death; Cassandra, a woman cursed with telling the truth but not being believed; and Clio, the muse of history. That night the body of a college history professor is found, her skull battered, in the peacock enclosure of the zoo. The next day Irene is phoned by someone who identifies himself as Thanatos, claims responsibility for the crime and threatens another. As the warnings and murders continue, Irene and her fiance, police detective Frank Harriman, find themselves caught in the web of police and press relations and the counter-pressures of Frank's desire to protect Irene versus her need for independence. Burke maintains firm control of her intricate tale, leading readers along a suspenseful path to a dramatic conclusion. (Feb.)