EPITAPH by James Siegel


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Adman Siegel’s mystery debut follows William Riskin, a retired, energy-deficient investigator, as he tries to figure out what “biggest case of his life” his former partner Jean Goldblum was working on before he died of a heart attack. The trail leads William from Flushing to Miami, from a hooker with a swastika tattoo to a mentally wandering old codger in a retirement home, and eventually to seven people in Jean’s meticulous case files who were supposed to be moving to Florida but disappeared somewhere along the way. Meanwhile, he begins to question Jean’s reputation as a Resistance hero during WWII and to wonder why, in his last days, he had his concentration-camp identity numbers removed with acid. Fighting arthritis, fatigue, and the notion that he’s too old for all this, William links all the names in Jean’s case files to the doctor who suggested they relocate to Florida, but it is another retired doctor, a physician who counseled Jean years ago, who reveals Jean’s ugly participation in a wartime serial killer’s rampage that has probably continued unabated to this day. Hobbled and at the mercy of this fiend, William is barely rescued before all his body parts can be sawed off. Now, he must gather his strength and, in a final twist, avenge Jean by eradicating the killer of over two hundred poor souls.

Siegel’s repetitive prose and flashback-swollen narrative won’t win any prizes. Still, he captures very well the indignities of aging, and his plot is sturdy enough to maintain interest.

Pub Date: June 16th, 2001
ISBN: 0-89296-712-9
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2001


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