UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Elizabeth Travis


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Travis' flimsy second novel (after Deadlines, 1987) introducing amateur sleuths Ben and Carrie Porter, owners of a small press in suburban Connecticut, where the country-club membership consists of seethingly mismatched couples. Among others, there are: philandering artist Greg and his stoically perfect Jenny; psychiatrist Garvin (who still pines for his college love, Jenny) and his maladjusted shrink-in-training Enid (who offers unsolicited, horrible advice to Garvin's suicidal/homicidal patient Frank Lundy, distraught over his wife Maria's posing--and more--for Greg). When Carrie opens the press door one morning, she finds Greg dead at her feet, with Ben's fishing knife embedded in him. Whodunit? Even the slowest of readers will know well before a fire destroys Greg's studio and his nude portraits of town matrons; Frank abducts his wife to a fishing camp, where he keeps her incommunicado for days; Jenny retrieves a vital clue from a repair shop; the cops mention Greg was shot before he was stabbed; and there's a gathering of the suspects in Ben's office. The silliness concludes with the killer's guilty collapse. Brittle, hostile byplay between Ben and Carrie makes them less than endearing. Contrived plotting; absurdly obvious motives. Pass on this one.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's