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Kate Baeler's third appearance (Death by Analysis, Morbid Symptoms) finds her ensconced in her own P.I. office with the indomitable Carmen assisting (and rescuing) her--while lover Sam seems as phlegmatically uninterested as ever. Here, musical prodigy Alicia Weatherby asks Kate to identify the man who attends all her performances and just stares at her. Marlon, Alicia's soignÉe mom, reduces Alicia to self-effacing silences, sort of pooh-poohs the matter, but agrees to let Kate have a go. Meanwhile, Carmen is working on the Mately factory-insurance fire scare, and it turns out the manager, Gordon Jarvis, was a frequent escort of Marion's--whose husband Richard seems to have disappeared, even from Alicia's memories, though he didn't actually leave until Alicia was almost ten. Kate discovers that Alicia's fan is famous prodigy/nurturer/impresario/agent James Morgan, actually Alicia's real father, but--when she rushes to tell Alicia--the youngster is at the foot of the auditorium stairs, a dead James at her feet, and she's screaming that she killed him. Did she? Kate wants to stay on the case, but Marion and her advisor, solicitor Trevor Plastid, suggest she desist. She demurs, keeps digging, and pieces together a tale of incest, old love, thwarted love, and unconsummated love, leading to Trevor's comeuppance. Genteely understated in that well-bred English manner, but here still waters run shallow--with clues that don't jell, cardboard people, and unlikely resolutions. But that Carmen deserves a book of her own!

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1988
Publisher: Doubleday