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One more blithe San Fran outing (Death Turns a Trick) with a likable journalist-sleuth by the name of Paul McDonald, who's trying to make it professionally like John D., Philip, and Ross. In the meantime, he writes up reports for sleazy, blackmailing P.I. Jack Birnbaum and finds himself in the middle of real-life mayhem when Birnbaum dies of poison. The motive seems to connect up with one of Birnbaum's cases--the snatch of 7-year-old Terry Koehler, daughter of not-too-normal Nobel scientist Jacob and his ex-wife Lindsay, who's disappeared. The theory looks stronger when two of Lindsay's lovers--one ex, one current--die mysteriously, and when our hero seems next in line as he probes Kogene, the research company recently formed by Jacob and his equally strange brother Steven, with Jacob's new scientist wife Marilyn in the background. A cancer cure is what the company's after, and it appears Jacob was trying it out on his leukemia-stricken daughter. Paul's spunky girlfriend Sandis helps him in a search for Lindsay that goes all the way to the Grand Canyon and serves as killer bait in the dramatic wind-up. Still overplotted and frenetic, but Smith improves with each story and this is her best to date.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1985
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux