RETURN TO SENDER by Dick Cluster


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A far-fetched but intermittently clever debut that flips from Boston to Berlin to London, while its amateur sleuth hero, car mechanic Alex Clauberman, takes chemotherapy pills. Standing next to a panicky Gerald Meyer in the P.O. line, Alex agrees to mail Meyer's package to West Germany, then watches as two goons strong-arm him, an elderly banker, into a taxi. Later, Meyer calls and offers Alex $2500 to recover that packet of ""family photographs"" from his daugher Cynthia. What's going on? Alex isn't sure, but when Meyer is executed gangland style, he arranges to meet Cynthia, a 40-ish anti-nuke activist, after first dropping in on Meyer's old business friend Jack Moselle at the London offices of Interface, Inc., a known mob front. Jack's so eager for those ""photographs,"" he'll double Meyer's fee if Alex will let him have them. Soon, Cynthia's blown up by a car bomb after claiming the package; Alex salvages all the bankable letters of acceptances and the list of bribed European politicans they were sent to; and it's back to London and a confrontation with Jack and the mysterious Joanna. Meanwhile, Alex's fiancee, Meredith, teaching in London for a semester, arrives in the nick of time to save him from going the way of Meyer. Alex's medical problems and the letters of acceptance banking/politico scam are well thought out, but the Jewish brotherhood subplot is mishandled almost to the point of tastelessless, and Alex's phone calls to the Boston police are sublimely inane. Overall: mildly challenging, though somewhat stodgily paced.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1988
Publisher: Dutton