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 Stifled by the prospect of toiling for a lifetime in his autocratic father's safe architectural practice, Merlin Richards packs his harp and sails off from Wales to America in search of his idol, the irascible Frank Lloyd Wright. Since the year is 1928, Wright is to be found in Phoenix, hovering around the Arizona Biltmore--a building on which he's working as a consultant to forgettable architect-of-record Albert Chase McArthur. Wright, who hates having less than total control of any project, is in no mood to welcome acolyte Merlin with open arms. But Merlin does get a warmer welcome from Rosa Lustig, a talented interior designer who gives him a lift, stands him to a meal, and takes him into her tent (but nothing more, whatever her hopeful beau Pete Bickley, a guard at the Biltmore site, may claim). Rosa is fresh and appealing, more interesting in every way than the suspects who survive when she's bashed to death with one of the ubiquitous decorative concrete blocks that seem to be Wright's most visible remaining contribution to the Biltmore. Once she's dead, stunned Merlin has nothing better to do than get arrested as the obvious suspect, get sprung just in time to be hoodwinked by a bogus newspaper columnist, and ask enough questions to pick out the nondescript killer. Miles, a.k.a. Edward Marston (The Lions of the North, 1995, etc.), presents towering, whimsical Wright and his newest creation (``not simply a fabulous architectural concept, it was an optical illusion'') in a suitably theatrical light. Only the mystery itself is pallid.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8027-3298-4
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997