Keith Miles. Walker & Company, $23.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-3332-0
Merlin Richards, Welsh architect and Frank Lloyd Wright prot g , makes a strong return in his second adventure, following Murder in Perspective. Rugged, good-looking and somewhat na ve, Merlin is grateful to find a Depression-era job at the Chicago firm of Westlake & Davisson. When he's offered the plum assignment of designing a mansion in Wright's old stomping ground of Oak Park, also known as Saint's Rest, he's thrilled. But like Wright's projects there, Merlin's is beset by difficulties. First, there's the interoffice jealousy his commission causes. Then there's the client, meat baron Hobart St. John, and his demanding wife, Alicia. St. John's ruthless aide, Donald Kruger, and his assistant, Clare Brovik, whose role is unclear but whose beauty is unmistakable, add another layer of trouble. Finally, there's the corpse that Merlin and Clare discover on the building site. Finding the body is bad enough, but Merlin is confounded when the police try to pass off an obvious murder as suicide. His attempts to get explanations lead to warnings and threats. Miles roots his novel in a fine period atmosphere that contrasts the lives of capricious haves and struggling have-nots. Though the ending is predictable, the romantic woes of his affable protagonist keep the pace pleasantly brisk. (July) FYI: Miles also writes under the pseudonym Edward Marston (see The Wanton Angel, reviewed below).
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999