cover image Infra Dig

Infra Dig

Ralph M. McInerny. Atheneum Books, $19 (218pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12132-6

In this darkly humorous situation comedy/mystery, the question is not ``whodunit?'' but ``who will take the blame?'' Lonely, 40-ish widow Susan Nebens nurses her wheelchair-bound father-in-law, Fred, a morbid old geezer who is fond of telling others how badly Susan wants to be rid of him. One unfortunate day, Susan puts her car in reverse and accidentally backs over Fred, killing him. Worried that the authorities will think she flattened him on purpose, she tells her friends that he is missing, stashes his body in a bag and plans to dispose of him in a dumpster. Fate intervenes: Susan's car, the body hidden inside, is stolen by two slow-witted ex-cons. The hoods decide to bribe her; a cop who is partial to young widows speculates that Fred is the victim of a mob hit; and a naive journalist devoted to the elderly blunders dangerously close to the truth. McInerny's ( Easeful Death ) success here turns on his alarmingly obtuse characters and their slapstick interaction. Never slack, this smoothly written, amusing story careens to a neat resolution. (July)