cover image Practice to Deceive

Practice to Deceive

David Housewright / Author Foul Play Press $22 (256p) ISBN 978

PI Holland Taylor is a former cop with an African American associate who covers his back, a high-level friend on the police force and a very smart lady who tries to keep him on the straight path. He also practices martial arts, brews exotic coffee and favors a special brand of local beer. But Housewright--who won an Edgar for best first novel with Taylor's debut in Penance (1996)--does more than merely echo Robert B. Parker's Spenser in this second episode: he tells a good story in a setting he makes his own. Taylor works out of Minnesota's Twin Cities, far from Boston; the black associate is Freddie (Sidney Poitier Fredricks), a venal and definitely downscale PI who wouldn't last two minutes up against Parker's Hawk. The cop friend keeps tossing Taylor into jail. The lady is Cynthia Grey, a lawyer who used to be a stripper. Taylor's martial arts practices may well compensate for his slight build. Housewright's plot is as open-faced as his genial homage. Asked by his father to help an 85-year-old neighbor recover the life savings stolen from her by Levering Field, an oily investment counselor, Taylor uses a cross-dressing computer genius to harass the swindler. But just as Field is ready to cave in, he's found dead--and somebody with very good aim is also shooting at Taylor. Housewright's wit, while making the most of the bow to Parker, should earn him an acclaim all his own. (Nov.)