TRICK OF LIGHT by David Hunt


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Achromatic photographer Kay Farrow is pulled into a second case of murder when her old teacher is killed by a hit-and-run motorcyclist. Even though the San Francisco cops don’t think Maddy Yamada’s death looks like homicide, everything about it smells suspicious to Kay. What was a retired, respected photojournalist like Maddy doing on the streets of the seedy Mission District past midnight anyway? Why had she been renting a room on Capp Street and using it only at night? What’s her obviously grief-stricken stepson David holding out about her private life? Taking over Maddy’s nocturnal lease—it’s a natural for her, since her color-blind, painfully sensitive eyes are much sharper at night—Kay soon realizes that there are good reasons she’s getting phone threats and hearing the roar of a motorcycle as she walks through the neighborhood. But when she survives a showdown that leaves the cyclist dying in a hospital bed, her work is only beginning, since the mystery of Maddy’s death isn’t nearly as obscure as the mystery of her life. As she follows Maddy’s annotation “THE GUN/FIND THE GUN/WHERE’S THE GUN,” Kay’s probing will bring her up against the Goddess Gun Club, a sinister group of well-heeled men interested in antique and erotic weaponry—and also, if the wilder rumors are to be credited, in reviving the customs of dueling each other and hunting down human prey they’ve captured or bought. None of this is believable for a minute, but Hunt keeps the juices flowing by exploring every facet of Kay’s complicated relationship with her old mentor, lingering over her training in aikido and defensive shooting, and providing a covey of truly hissable villains. In fact, all this deluxe melodrama would read just like a mystery if only there were more surprises, and if everything didn’t take twice as long as you expected. More conventional and less perversely stylish than Kay’s striking debut (The Magician’s Tale, 1997), but better focused and constructed. Take your pick.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1998
ISBN: 0-399-14393-9
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998