HUSH, MONEY by Jean Fending


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After a 14-year absence (Backyard, 1975), Femling reappears with a prickly second mystery, this one featuring edgy, half-Filipino insurance adjuster Martha ""Moz"" Brant. Moz returns from dinner on Judy and Rick's boat (Rick is an ex-boyfriend who rescued her from drunken times) to a hospital phone call stating that they're both near death from a boat explosion. Arnold Tenhagen's fancy yacht--with him aboard--went whoosh. Between guilt-ridden visits to the hospital, Moz and Gage, who insured the Tenhagen boat, piece together what happened--which leads to anonymous phone calls to Moz; a trip wire across her stairs: virulent condescension from Arnold's pushy daughter Deirdre; a few sexual nibbles from his drug-addicted son Keith: some elliptical conversations with family retainer Socorro: the discovery of son Jordan, who supposedly died in childbirth; and wile Vera's manipulation of boatman Eddie, who thought he was manipulating her. The finale finds Jordan bought off by dear sister Deirdre, and Eddie dead at the hands of Vera, who crashes her BMW into a stone gatehouse. Meanwhile, Judy dies, Rick is conscious but neurologically damaged, and the wrap-up is anything but pretty--another downbeat bummer for Moz. Grim, well-written, and tensely menacing. Like swilling hemlock for a few hours.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's