BURN by John Lutz



 Freelance writer Marla Cloy insists that Florida developer Joel Brant is harassing her, following her around, threatening her life, and thumbing his nose at the police. But it's Brant who wants shamus Fred Carver (Torch, 1994, etc.) on the case to vindicate him by supplying an alibi or catching Cloy out in a lie before she can set him up for a prison term or kill him and claim self-defense. Brant tells Carver that he'd never heard of Cloy before her accusations; Carver can't find any link between the two of them when he investigates the recent apartment fire in Cloy's Orlando building or the auto collision that killed Brant's wife; and even Cloy, when Carver talks to her, admits that there's never been any link between her and Brant. So who's the victim, who's the aggressor, and what's the motive? Carver, who wonders if he'll ever be able to puzzle out this case, is given an equally bewildering subplot when his lover, black newshound Beth Jackson, announces that she's pregnant and can't decide whether or not to have his baby. Only the threatening entrance of your typical violent muscleman, one Achilles Jones, hints at a coming revelation, and even after the climactic conflagration, Carver will still be scratching his head until the very last minute. Lesser work from Lutz: professionally tense but overdrawn, with Carver putting in so much conscientious time following everybody, including his client, that you'd almost rather see the poor guy drawing unemployment until his next book.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8050-3480-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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