cover image Frigor Mortis

Frigor Mortis

Ralph M. McInerny. Atheneum Books, $18.95 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12081-7

Juxtaposing comedy and suspense, McInerny constructs a mystery equal in excellence to his Fr. Dowling series and other novels. In a small Minnesota town, Roy Hunt and Stella Arthur shove her rich husband George through a hole in an icebound lake. Leaving him to drown, the killers wait for the body to surface in the spring and prove Stella's widowhood, so they can wed and live on George's money. Meantime, Stella sells the victim's extensive library to Steve Nicodemus, a used book dealer, thus entangling him as well as others in the case, which is magnified by a second murder. Lost and later found keys to bank-deposit boxes, secrets in George's books, etc., add to the confusion, as does prying by such colorful types as a husband jealous of a would-be roving wife and a female minister who encourages anti-male attitudes. The characters are all delightfully entertaining, but it is Steve, the gentle bibliophile, who solves the puzzles and wins the reader's heart. (Sept.)