IN DEEP by Bruce Jones


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 Debut thriller about a serial killer on Santa Barbara's Laredo Beach. Jones's is a stylelessly routine crime novel featuring a pleasant if not very snappy hero. Female bodies are turning up on Laredo Beach and Detective Eustes Tully (a nameplay--for no clear reason--on The New Yorker's emblematic Eustace Tilly) discovers that the victims have had their vaginas savaged by a policeman's nightstick studded with nails. The victims also were divorced or separated mothers and are clothed in Fifties swimgear and have been given dark glasses. With these clues to go on, Tully--who is unmarried, going to fat, and something of a neuter--hopes to crack the case and get a promotion. He's known for his brilliant ``lateral thinking,'' but as the case heats up, Tully is yanked from Homicide, temporarily reassigned to Narcotics, and his big murder case is given to dumbbell Detective Brumeister, who detests Tully and wants the promotion himself. Why did Captain Sparrs make this switch? Do the murders have something to do with Tully's new job, to nail Medell°n drug-cartel kingpin Santiago Dias, whose yacht is now moored at a Santa Monica dock? How can Tully get on board and investigate? Well, he runs into Mitch Spencer, an ex-cop recently fired as an insurance investigator, now separated from his pregnant wife and first child, who is a guest on the Dias yacht. It's Mitch who is ``in deep'' and who's Tully's reverse image. Mitch has been hired by Dias to keep an eye on yacht guest Claire Greely, wife of an impotent multimillionaire, but not only has Mitch fallen for her, he's also being set up by Dias to take the fall in the beach murders. So, is Dias, who has rich Oedipal problems, the murderer? The working out of all of this is quite forced and unbelievable and may alienate otherwise sympathetic readers. Not a flop but too heavy on the filler dialogue.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-58205-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991


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