FULL STOP by Joan Smith


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 Loretta Lawson, the author's English lecturer-writer heroine (What Men Say, 1994, etc.), returns for a fifth outing, this time spending a weekend at the New York apartment of her friend Toni Stramiello--a stopover on her way back to Oxford after an extended stay in California. Trouble starts when Toni suddenly announces that she's going to Long Island for the weekend (to get married, it transpires), leaving Loretta to feed and walk Toni's ugly bulldog Honey, go alone to the theater, and receive a series of obscene phone calls at the apartment. Even her amiable contact with journalist ex-husband John Tracey turns out unhappily, their dinner date ending with Tracey nearly unconscious from a forbidden mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. Meanwhile, wherever Loretta goes- -from the theater to the Metropolitan Museum to lunch with her agent--she's certain someone is watching. A walk in the park with Honey produces an embarrassing encounter with a young man claiming to be Toni's son; back at the apartment, the obscene caller, now identified, is still on the line. A last day trip, on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, turns up a living reminder of a one-night stand in the distant past and ends with a fatal shooting--an absurd finish to a hodgepodge of a story. Loretta's twittery reaction to just about everything belies the sophisticated career-woman image, and the plot's incoherence results in little suspense. There's some merit in the flowery, minutely detailed descriptions of New York's highways, byways, art collections, etc., but there are livelier city guides around--and much livelier whodunits.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-449-91048-2
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996


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