FATAL GIFT by H. Michael Frase


Email this review


Urbane mobsters, nasty biker trash, nosy reporters, and corpses aplenty dot the Nashville hills in a first thriller about the people behind the people behind Music City. Kasey Riteman, a failed country singer, quits her waitress job and aimlessly wanders the backroads beyond Davidson County until a flat tire forces her to seek assistance. While walking, she spies the rape, murder, and crude burial of a beautiful blond woman by a pond-scum biker stupid enough to put his nickname, JOEYBOY, on his license plate. Should Kasey, a gorgeously athletic divorc‚e without children, tell the cops, the media, or avenge the killing-in her own way? Adapting the Elmore Leonard formula of inspired amateur going up against sleazy types, Frase has his plucky heroine do a little of all three. Pretending to be a psychic, she leads an ambitious television reporter to the scene of the crime, gaining immediate fame and fortune and the wary interest of skeptical, handsome Police Chief Jordan Taylor. What Kasey doesn't know is that the murder was a mob hit, that the victim had evidence linking sex-crazed mob boss Marlo Giacano to smarmy Tennessee Governor Wayne ""Buddy"" Williams, and that one or more of the cops under Chief Taylor's command are in Giacano's pocket. Complications lead to corpses as Joey ""Joeyboy"" Griffin murders Kasey's best friend, as well as her ex-husband and other ne'er-do-wells standing between him and the witness to his crime. Author Frase is strong on research and procedures--his catalogue of cops, crooks, and music industry also-rans are far more interesting than his somewhat ditzy heroine. Stuck in a plot that turns so much on coincidence and dumb luck, Kasey actually wonders if she just might be a little bit psychic after all. A tabloid-fantasy thrill-ride imbedded in a Nashville crime story that doesn't hang on a Music City hook. A competent debut, despite the psychic silliness.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Carroll & Graf