Murder at the ABA convention.
The narrator, wry small-press publisher Guy Mallon, begins with the obituary of media-hound poet Heidi Yamada, who’s died of a drug overdose in Las Vegas while attending the 1990 American Booksellers Association convention. Flashbacks fill in the events leading up to the crime. Guy meets Heidi in 1977 shortly after spending his last dollar to buy a used bookstore in Santa Barbara. Beautiful, self-promoting Heidi knows nothing about literature but craves fame. With a little coaching from Guy, she writes a hot collection of bogus verse. She and Guy become lovers, each helping the other in their fledgling endeavors before Heidi dumps him for greener mentoring. Thirteen years later, Guy and Carol, his current business partner-cum-lover, have a successful small press. Heidi’s been through a series of professional ups and downs, including assorted lovers, most of them in attendance: cowboy bard Maxwell Black, book reviewer Taylor Bingham, illustrious poet Arthur Summers et al. Stirring the pot is a pesky Publishers Weekly photographer named Marjorie Richmond with shaky credentials and a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some pictures Marjorie has snapped prove invaluable to Guy and Carol in their discovery of the clever killer.
Nonstop wisecracks and an amiable tweaking of the publishing world add up to a highly entertaining debut, mystery aside—which, for the most part, it is.