cover image The Accidental Pallbearer: 
An Eliot Conte Mystery

The Accidental Pallbearer: An Eliot Conte Mystery

Frank Lentricchia. Melville International Crime (Random, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-61219-171-3

Near the outset of this uneven first in a new crime series from Lentricchia (The Book of Ruth), Utica, N.Y., PI Eliot Conte, son of a New York State political kingmaker, tells his oldest friend, Antonio Robinson, he’s recently learned that the police suspect his ex-wife, Nancy, is the one who bludgeoned their two daughters to death in Laguna Beach, Calif., apparently following through on a threat to get back at him. Robinson, who landed the position of Utica police chief through the elder Conte’s influence, suggests that killing Nancy is the appropriate next step, but Conte feels nothing in the face of this devastating news. Of more concern is pursuing a man Conte will soon witness abusing his baby daughter on a train. Lentricchia, dubbed the “Dirty Harry of literary criticism” by the Village Voice, does a good job of depicting the quotidian nature of most PI work, but the plot starts out stronger than it finishes. Agent: Deirdre Mullane, Deirdre Mullane Literary. (Jan.)