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FALLING STAR by Lillian O'Donnell



Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1979
Publisher: Putnam

The second sleuthing appearance of Mici Anhalt of N.Y.'s Crime Victims Compensation Board is something of an improvement over her dreadful debut in Aftershock (1977); Mici herself is, thank heavens, a grittier gal than before. But O'Donnell still seems to save the good plots for her Norah Mulcaheney series--this one is all about the Times Square tenement murder of washed-up alcoholic actress Julia Schuyler, the Diana Barrymore-like daughter of a John Barrymore-like acting legend. Since Mici was one of the last to see friend Julia alive, she investigates, rejecting the obvious suspect (Julia's estranged actor husband) in favor of other leads--like Julia's young-actor/lover or someone interested in Julia's forthcoming memoirs. And as she sleuths (while fending off a rapist, the sexy young actor, and a ""sweetie""-talking married cop), her job at the Compensation Board becomes imperiled--through no fault of Mici's. Corny and unconvincing solution, dated theatrical milieus (the Compensation Board locales are better)--but O'Donnell, even at her shakiest, is enough of a pro to make this a passable reworking of formula materials.