A CUP OF DEATH by Gene Thompson


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Folksy lawyer-sleuth Dade Cooley (Murder Mystery, Nobody Cared for Kate) heads down from San Francisco to Los Angeles--where old friend Paul Vandamm, classics prof, has been shot to death just after returning home from Greece with wife Sophie Galanos, the celebrated Greek-American actress. The cops have arrested Vandamm's part-time chauffer, young Manuel Garcia, for the killing. Motive? Robbery, supposedly. (Sophie is missing some costume jewelry.) But Dade, signing in as Manuel's lawyer, is convinced that the murder is linked to Vandamm's recent investigation into Schliemann's excavation of Agamemnon's tomb. Did Vandamm bring back new, earthshaking evidence regarding the long-controversial tomb? Did someone steal that evidence? Furthermore, what about Vandamm's dark secret (a bygone illegitimate child) or Sophie's (her affair with Manuel)? What about Sophie's undergrad daughter (another Manuel conquest) or Vandamm's ne'er, do-well brother (a compulsive gambler) or. . .? As before, then, Thompson overstuffs this old-fashioned mystery with creaky motives and a horde of suspects--all of whom are gathered together at the close for a Nero Wolfe-style wrap-up by loquacious Dade. But, though the final sections drag matters out soggily, the storytelling is brighter and tighter than in the previous two outings, with extra appeal to archaeology buffs. And readers may be sufficiently caught up in the opening chapters (especially the jailhouse lawyer/client confrontations) to stick around when things bog down.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1987
Publisher: Random House