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It's no trouble for Matthew Hope to find Jill Lawton's departed husband Jack, even though Matthew won't be able to serve him with divorce papers and an alimony suit after all, since Jack is dead--killed on a nearby beach, a long way from his last sighting up north, only a few hours after Jill first hires Matthew. As usual with McBain, though, the case is a little trickier than it seems. For one thing, the dead guy on the beach with Jack's ID in his wallet isn't Jack after all, but one Ernest Corrington, a stickup man who'd joined forces with Jack to heist a seriously overpriced terra-cotta cup for a well-heeled, unscrupulous client. For another, Hope's original telephone search for Jack at his last known address put him in touch with none other than Steve Carella, of McBain's beloved 87th Precinct. While it seems as if Hope and the boys at the 87th are working at cross-purposes--and they are, they are--their lack of communication is nothing compared to the triple- and quadruple- crosses planned by the gang of amateurs and professionals Jack's recruited to steal that cup. As McBain hip-hops back and forth through time (achieving an especially eerie effect with one sequence presented from the point of view of a character who's just been killed), it becomes obvious that even though Jack & Co. may have the cup, they don't have what it takes. A bit too obvious, maybe. Lacking the sustained tension of Hope's last two cases (Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear, 1996, etc.), this one works best as an ebullient lightweight.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1998
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Warner