cover image SWING


Rupert Holmes, . . Random, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6158-7

Take one multiple-award–winning playwright/musician/screenwriter/producer/novelist, add a publisher willing to back a multimedia novel (this one boasts a CD of original music and a handful of illustrations) and the result is a clever, original mystery that's pure fun to read, listen to, look at and puzzle out. Holmes's Where the Truth Lies (2003) proved him to be an excellent period writer, a skill he demonstrates again with this story of murder at the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition, the West Coast answer to the New York World's Fair. Jazz musician Ray Sherwood is in San Francisco with his band when he meets a young composer, Gail Prentice, who needs him to orchestrate her award-winning musical composition, Swing , which will play at one of the fair's Treasure Island pavilions. Ray quickly falls for the fetching Grace and is soon deep into orchestrating her avant-garde composition. But after a woman plunges from the sky at the Court of the Moon plaza and lands at Ray's feet, he finds himself involved in a mystery that not only will produce more bodies but also threaten the stability of several governments. Music and mystery go hand in hand; the excellent swing music on the included CD (written and orchestrated by Holmes and referenced in the novel) contains clues to the solution. A tour de force of style and erudition, Holmes's second novel will delight mystery readers of any sort. Agent, Heather Schroder at ICM. (Mar.)

Forecast: Holmes has a host of accolades (Tonys, Edgars, you name it), and Atom Egoyan has adapted his first novel for the screen. With a good push from Random House, this should make a big splash .