cover image Hard Case: A Cat Marsala Mystery

Hard Case: A Cat Marsala Mystery

Barbara D'Amato. Scribner Book Company, $20 (258pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19686-2

Detection becomes secondary-and tedious-in this latest Cat Marsala story, which seems less a mystery than a paean to doctors involved in emergency care. At a Chicago hospital to write a story on its trauma center, free-lance journalist Cat has barely learned her way around the unit when she finds Dr. Hannah Grant, its new director, dead in the staff lounge, suffocated by gauze stuck down her throat with a tongue depressor. Det. Sgt. Robert Hightower, though annoyed by Cat's desire to help with the case, is clearly not bright enough to solve it alone, so Cat chats with members of the medical team to determine motive and opportunity. In a busy trauma section, it is difficult to establish who was where and when; D'Amato, author of last year's estimable Hard Women, has a disappointingly colorless Cat drag readers through the dreary details of staff comings and goings until it is difficult to care who murdered Grant. By the time another doctor is killed, the story is beyond resuscitation. Maybe in her next adventure Cat will land on all four feet. (Sept.)