THE BOY WHO WAS BURIED THIS MORNING by Joseph Hansen

THE BOY WHO WAS BURIED THIS MORNING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this eleventh outing, California insurance-claims investigator Dave Brandstetter (Fadeout, Skinflick, etc.) is feeling his age as he edges into senior-citizenship. The Brandstetter series itself has been showing signs of age, too, and this latest episode never quite catches fire--despite sporadic violence and often-shrill theatrics. As a favor to his lover Cecil (a youngish black TV-newsman), Dave looks into the ""accidental"" death of Vaughn Thomas, who gets fatally shot while playing ""paint-ball"" war-games at a woodsy recreation-spot called ""Combat Zone."" A stray hunter's bullet? Perhaps. But Dave smells murder when Thomas' girlfriend disappears and later turns up dead in her creepy hometown. The obvious suspect: the girlfriend's unstable, jealous ex-husband. Dave is equally curious, however, about the dead man's ties with--and recent break from--a white-supremacist gang. Was Vaughn Thomas involved in the gang's suspected arson at a multiracial housing project? And is it significant that Thomas' father and stepmother own and operate a multimillion-dollar marketing agency? The ingredients here--mean hillbillies, neo-Nazi skinheads, a black professor/consultant with a secret stash of firearms--verge on pulp-melodrama now and then. The action-vignettes, with Dave stalked by racist commandos, lack conviction. But the final twist is refreshingly down-to-earth, and there's enough of Hansen's customary skill--seedy atmosphere, lean narration, nicely edgy dialogue--to make this modestly satisfying rather than downright disappointing.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1990
Publisher: Viking