THE COLOR OF DEATH by Elizabeth Lowell


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Gem cutter gets cracking, from the hugely popular author of, most recently, Running Scared (2002).

When her gay half-brother Lee Mandel disappears, Kat Chandler wants answers. Was Lee murdered by mysterious South American baddies trying to get their swarthy hands on the Seven Sins, rare natural sapphires that everyone wants? Could be—and Kat might have stumbled on the first of these matchless stones. Next: explanations. Lowell (a.k.a. mystery writer A.E. Maxwell, a husband-and-wife team) dutifully covers absolutely everything there is to know about precious and semi-precious stones, gem dealing, and the so-called science of gemology, providing exhaustive detail on various techniques to improve the appearance of colored stones and hence raise their value to unsuspecting buyers. A handsome cop pops up as a love interest and brawny shoulder to cry on, as do more bad guys, including Peyton Hall, the whining, ambitious, unscrupulous son of jewelry retailers and his bitchy girlfriend Sharon Sizemore, who’s into picking her cuticles and watching porn when not plotting everyone’s downfall. Were the Seven Sins stolen by Lee dressed in drag? Hey, maybe he’s still alive! Is Jack Kirby, a former fed, in cahoots with Sharon’s father, a hard-bitten security expert? And check out all those people skulking around in dopey disguises (the story’s chock-a-block with wigs, stuffed bras, and even fake facial hair)—what’s up with that? A few obligatory references to scary people like crack whores are thrown in here and there—as if this ladylike author ever got near one. In fact, much of this seems to have been written by someone else, and the dated tough-guy prose borders on the ridiculous: “White went out of the van like a hundred-and-seventy-pound cat. His lead-filled sap hit the base of her skull with a meaty sound.”

James Patterson–style microchapters, some not even a page long, keep things moving, but the end result is no big whoop.

Pub Date: June 15th, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-050413-7
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2004


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