cover image Death Below Deck

Death Below Deck

Douglas Kiker. Random House (NY), $18 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40022-6

Mac McFarland ( Death on Clam Pond ) returns in this leisurely paced, entertaining mystery. After his estranged wife shows up in town, the hard-drinking ex-newspaperman is kicked out by his much younger and devout Catholic lover, Kate. Then he receives a summons from an old journalism colleague, Bitsy Binford. Mac was once in love with the beautiful Southern belle, who is now the owner of a multimillion-dollar media conglomerate. The manipulative Bitsy hasn't looked Mac up for old times' sake, however; she's discovered her stepson-in-law's body on board his beached yacht, an apparent suicide, and she wants Mac to ``take care'' of things. Mac and his good friend Noah Simmons, Clam Pond's police chief, find that the evidence seems to support the suicide theory, but Mac has doubts: As head of Freeport Communications, Peter Stallings was much hated and feared. And because of his own medical history, Mac suspects that something was not right with Stallings. As Mac investigates the case, which no one wants him to solve, he mourns the loss ms says lost of Kate; of Kate, whose presence is unavoidable in the small town, and has a hilarious drunken brawl with her in his favorite bar. There's not a whole lot of action or suspense here, but NBC correspondent Kiker's colorful Clam Pond regulars and folksy narrative style are immensely appealing. (Mar.)