cover image Murder in Perspective

Murder in Perspective

Keith Miles. Walker & Company, $21.95 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-3298-9

British author Miles, who also writes as Edward Marston, introduces a series celebrating the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright but turns in a merely workmanlike performance. In the 1920s, young Welsh architect Merlin Richards hears the siren call of Wright's genius and travels to the U.S. in hopes of meeting Wright. His quest leads him to the Arizona desert outside Phoenix, where the Arizona Biltmore (completed in 1929) is being constructed. Richards is befriended by Rosa Lustig, a beautiful young designer, and one of the many Wright acolytes drawn to the Biltmore project. An abrasively independent sort, Lustig arouses both sexual and professional passions among the small band constructing the monumental Wright-designed building in the desert. When she is violently murdered, the newly arrived Richards becomes a prime suspect. Miles does an excellent job of weaving Wright (who plays a limited role in this novel) and his work into the fabric of the story, which he peoples with characters who accurately reflect the awe, resentment and jealousy inspired by Wright's work and person. Wright's role in the building and design of the Arizona Biltmore remains a subject of debate (officially he was a ""consultant,"" not the architect), and Miles uses this to good effect. But as a lead character, Richards needs stronger definitionDespecially when set against a powerhouse like WrightDto make this series succeed. (Mar.)