Books by Larry Maness

STRANGLER by Larry Maness
Released: March 1, 1998

Why has the Cambridge Police Department been shut out of the case of Ruth Hill, a researcher raped and strangled on Cambridge Common? Herald reporter Bruce Drummond tells shamus Jake Eaton that the Boston department has grabbed the case of his murdered friend, and he wants Jake to find out why it was done—and who did it. Jake has no trouble linking Ruth's murder to two similar murders over the past, but he suspects the earlier cases aren't the real reason Boston is sitting on the case; the roots go much deeper—30 years back, to the days of the Boston Strangler, long ago convicted and killed in prison. When the cops pounced on Albert DeSalvo and put him away, did they get the wrong guy? Or is a diabolical copycat at work? Before Jake can come up with answers, Drummond is tortured and killed, with every indication that the slayings will go on. The clue to the strangler's identity seems to lie in the uncompleted doctoral dissertation of Harvard psychology student Vicki Shaw—but everybody who's seen the manuscript is dead. Can Jake and his ladylove Gloria Graham keep Vicki herself from becoming the strangler's final victim? Maness (A Once Perfect Place, 1996, etc.) provides some thoughtful commentary on the original Boston Strangler investigation, though his hey-presto solution isn't likely to trouble the sleep of cops in Boston, Cambridge, or anywhere else. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Cambridge, Mass., shamus Jake Eaton (Nantucket Revenge, 1995) is hired by imperious Mildreth Gibbon Preston to figure out what's going on up in Winslow, New Hampshire—where Mrs. Preston has just given the state 20,000 acres of pristine forest and mountain as a memorial to her late husband Oliver, a Nobel laureate and ``founder of the modern environmental movement.'' Specifically: Why has Colin Owens, the aerial surveyor assigned to do a flyover of the land, mysteriously disappeared? Could it be connected to the recent murder of a local sheriff—or to bygone village feuds and family secrets? The plot promises to become nicely complicated when the missing man is shot dead down in Boston . . . while breaking into Mrs. Preston's house! But once Jake realizes that all the mayhem is connected to the machinations of a ruthless corporate polluter, the action (revelations/chase/showdown) proceeds along more predictable melodramatic lines. Decent but uneven—with some distinctive village-character touches, a blandly brave hero (with a Lassie-like super-dog as sidekick), and a few intriguing toxic-waste details. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

Somebody is out to get Gloria Gorham, somebody named William—that's how he signs his letters cackling over the millionaire daughter's imminent demise—and he's not too crazy about Nantucket Island either. Shortly after dawn on July 1, Jake Eaton, the Cambridge shamus Gloria's called in to find out who William is and what he's got against her, realizes that William plans a rootin'-tootin' fireworks show shortly after midnight on the Fourth, with either the island's waterfront or its downtown as fuel. Against lesser opposition, William has already closed down the Nantucket airport, run the local ferry aground, and threatened to shut down all transportation off the island. Can Jake decipher the clues left by William's macabre trail of corpses—a harpooned bank president, the town drunk lost at sea (except for his amputated arm), a speargunned dock manager—and overcome the obligatory opposition both of the island fathers and of his own imperious client in time to dope out William's incredible motivation and head off the bonfire of the vanities? Playwright Maness's first novel provides all the thrills of watching a demented supervillain doing what he does best. But it may be hard to care whether the stock heroes foil his nefarious plans unless you already have a stake in Nantucket yourself. Read full book review >