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Seattle's Jane da Silva (Electric City, 1994, etc.), one of the genre's ditzier sleuths, takes on her fourth ""hopeless case."" This time, while working as a lounge singer at the Meade Hotel, site of an international seafood show and convention, Jane is called on for help by food-writer Carla Elroy, who has discovered the body of Marcia St. Francis, shot to death, in a hospitality-suite bathroom. Jane had seen Marcia earlier in the company of hard-drinking Norwegian Trygve Knutsen and, after the police arrive, glimpses Knutsen again, in the corridor, trying to hide a handcuff dangling from one wrist. Marcia's bewildered parents, out of touch with their daughter for months, beg Jane to explore her recent past and maybe find her killer. When Carla is fired from her job at Seafood News magazine, she agrees to coach Jane as her replacement, and so our heroine has the perfect cover to pursue her fuzzy suspicions. She travels to Norway and the Shetland Islands, hearing persistent rumors of sabotage at worldwide salmon farms; keeps running into Gunther Kessler, who may or may not be in refrigeration; and meets the Putnam brothers, who can't wait to show her their pollack roe separator. In the end, it's a tape sent in error that puts the finishing touches on this ill-blended bouillabaisse. The fish lore is interesting, and Jane's mixed-up persona retains its charm. But the also mixed-up plot, overloaded -- dare one say -- with red herrings, is an unpalatable stew.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0446403512
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Mysterious