PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jane Waterhouse

PLAYING FOR KEEPS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Murder in gentrified Hoboken, New Jersey--where likably surly cop Hunter Murtaugh, an ungentrified hometown boy, eyes the assorted yuppie witnesses and suspects with rising suspicion. The first killing is that of old-timer Rose Walsh, one of the working, class holdouts on an escalating block. And the obvious suspect is Rose's foul, henpecked husband--while the ritualistic state of the corpse suggests a connection to the local Hispanic community. But when several other deaths follow (an Hispanic child, an ancient landlady), Munaugh focuses more and more on the yuppies who now dominate the block: a lawyer, an architect, a retired tennis star, a boutique-owner--and quirky artist Dana Hall, who wins Murtaugh's heart. . .but becomes the fourth victim before the boozy, rebellious cop (grieving for the obligatory dead wife) can solve the crime. That solution is no surprise, especially since it's virtually announced in the publisher's blurbs. It's also implausible and belabored--with repetitious explanations, villainous interior monologues, and an elaborate end-game. (Murtaugh scares the culprits into incriminating themselves.) Nonetheless, this overlong debut is also an appealing one--thanks to crisply detailed Hoboken backgrounds, assured dialogue, and a tough, vulnerable loner-detective who's specific and endearing enough to rise above the stereotype.

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1987
Publisher: Macmillan