cover image Don't Explain

Don't Explain

Dallas Murphy. Pocket Books, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-86687-7

Although it starts with the delightful premise of somebody stalking a celebrity dog, Murphy's third Artie Deemer mystery (Lover Man and Lush Life) slackens, ultimately done in by a casually constructed plot. Jellyroll, Artie's dog, who as ``star of stage, screen, and retail packaging'' earns enough to keep them both in treats, has been receiving threatening letters. To protect his pooch, Artie decides to hide out in a friend's boathouse on an island off the coast of Maine. About the time man and dog arrive in Maine, an unfortunate tourist has her head cut open with an ax--an event which initially interests Artie less than do the colorful locals, many of whom, as the story progresses, cheerfully confess to past killings. He's much more absorbed by the arrival of his lover, Crystal Spivey; a mysterious man dressed entirely in black; a boat that doesn't belong to one of the usual summer folks; and the appearance of some well-decayed remains that quickly vanish. The vanity of mediocre actors and Jellyroll's tendency to vomit offer Murphy lots of fodder for jokes, some of which are funny and many of which are sophomoric. (Dec.)