PENANCE by David Housewright


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A first novel introduces Minnesota's Holland Taylor, a 40ish ex-cop turned p.i. who's been alone since his wife and child were killed by drunken driver John Brown some years ago. Brown is out now, living in a halfway house with Joseph Sherman, a cellmate also jailed for a drunk-driving death--that of Terrance Friedlander, who was then running a shoo-in campaign for his eighth term in Minnesota's House of Representatives. The police have found Brown in a parking lot, shot to death; Sherman has disappeared; and Taylor is their number one suspect. He manages to come up with an alibi but decides to investigate Brown's killing on his own. Friedlander's opponent in the election was beautiful blond Carol Catherine Monroe, now running for governor and saying all the right things under the direction of lawyer-feminist-manager Marion Senske. Taylor's visit to their campaign headquarters brings little light but produces a job offer--go to one Dennis Thoreau's residence with $10,000 and bring back the pornographic film of Thoreau and Monroe that he's selling. Taylor finds the tape, all right, along with Thoreau's very dead body and ransacked house. From this point, characters proliferate, the body count rises big-time, and the plot thickens to near-impenetrability. Readers may doubt that politically savvy Minnesotans would elect airhead Monroe as dogcatcher, but the author's Spade-Archer derivative, although a bit preachy, might fare much better in a thinner porridge of a plot.

Pub Date: Nov. 27th, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Foul Play/Countryman