MURDER OF A DEAD MAN by Katherine John


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 Third in a series featuring Inspector Trevor Joseph of the Serious Crimes Squad, his truculent buddy Peter Collins, and their colleagues in an English seaside town (Six Foot Under, p. 564, etc.). A vagrant has been torched on seedy Jubilee Street, and painstaking police work has tracked down a newsman's photo of the likely killer. The face in the picture turns out to be that of Anthony George, a young lawyer who died of a heart attack two years ago. His face, it turns out, had been surgically stripped from his body as it lay in the mortuary by some unknown individual. At about that time Adam Weaver, the once-popular leading man of a TV show, had escaped from prison after being convicted of the brutal killing of his wife--a charge he vociferously denied. Joseph consults Dr. Daisy Randall--an old, unrequited passion of his--who reluctantly names Laurence Marks, now resident in the US, as the only surgeon she knows capable of doing a face transplant. Marks's lawyer brother Brian had been a friend and mentor to Anthony George. As the entire force concentrates on finding Weaver, the body count escalates, adding policewoman Anna Bradley to the list, until the long overdue, bizarre, and uncompelling solution arrives. The author's flair for suspense gets full play here, but the plotting is often incoherent; there's also an overload of police chatter, and routine and too much attention is lavished on the dismal private lives of Collins and Joseph. The arbitrary denouement, which may leave readers feeling short-changed, doesn't help. John's goriest but least impressive work to date.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15365-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1996


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