A TIME FOR DYING by Jonathan Ross


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A mildly interesting plot, half-buried in excessive verbiage, involves the murder of Solon Stephanakis, on his doorstep, by a crossbow's arrow. No loss to the world, the victim was a pimp, drug-dealer, and all-round scoundrel who worked at the Barbizan gambling club for owner Geoffrey Sickert--equally depraved but slightly more polished. Debbie Stuchley, an ex-hostess at the club who's recently been living with Stephanakis, has disappeared. Detective Superintendent George Rogers and his foppish sidekick David Lingard (Dead Eye, etc.), in charge of the case, find a connection to another recent killing--that of Walter Kiddle, an innocent whose only mistake was a trip to Holland, a frequent destination for Stephanakis. Rogers questions old enemy Sickert unproductively; tracks down Stephanakis' separated wife Allegra (another temptress for Rogers to fend off); and interviews Debbie's distressed parents--her father is a country doctor; her brother a medical student. It all leads nowhere until another arrow disposes of Sickert--and Rogers begins to see the light. The ornate wordiness that marks the author's style, with rare exceptions, is in full flower here, describing Rogers' every fleeting thought; change of mood; change of clothes--all to the detriment of pace, clarity, and, above all, the reader's attention and enjoyment. No joy here for police-procedural fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's