cover image Rescue


Jeremiah F. Healy, J. F. Healy, Healy. Atria Books, $20 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-671-89877-9

Healy's John Cuddy, the Boston-based PI with an old-fashioned code of honor, has starred now in 10 books, and his latest is a humdinger. Stopping on the highway to help a young woman change a tire, Cuddy is reminded by the awkward kid with her of a buddy he lost in Vietnam--and always felt guilty about--and promises to help if the boy should ever need it. Next day the driver is found dead and the boy has disappeared. Without missing a beat, Cuddy takes up the case, finds the boy's uptight religious parents and finds also a scary Southerner who may have killed the girl and who seems obsessed with a tub-thumping religious evangelist based in the Florida Keys. True to his code, Cuddy is off to Florida and, eventually, after a lot of skilfully laid-on local color and another murder, to a slam-bang climax as the horrible secret of what has appeared to be a run-of-the-mill sect is revealed. The plot is no more than serviceable, and the religious-right villain may be over the top. But the writing is deft and clean, the moments of violent action blood-curdlingly convincing and the zany Keys atmosphere is caught better than anyone has done it since John D. Macdonald. An elderly retired Navy man and his wife, who help out in the crunch, are beautifully drawn and deeply touching. Only a certain sexual complacency about Cuddy (he thinks he's catnip to women) prevents him from being an ideal Eye. Rights: Jed Mattes. (Mar.)