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Vincent's first novel is a surprisingly ingenious whodunit with a hospital setting and a radiologist hero. Townsend Reeves' life is in crisis even before his dislikable colleague Barry Zimmerman, another radiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Kansas City, is bludgeoned to death as he pores over a stack of X-rays. Townsend's wife Leslie Rosenthal has just left him to try making it as a dancer in New York; and Townsend, who gave up his own dream of playing pro basketball to appease his late physician father, has solaced himself by taking X-ray technician Diane Price to a Missouri Wildcat basketball game and then to bed at the hospital, only to be awakened by a call that takes him straight to Zimmerman's corpse. Despite his burgeoning friendship with investigating Detective Anthony Mauro, Townsend doesn't find much warmth among a surviving cast that includes: bullying department-chairman Arnold Brenton; slimy surgeons Ron Schoenlieber and Larry Harris; lazy Sam Sutherland, whose error in interpreting an X-ray may have cost a young man his leg; and crass basketball coach Ben Wojiak, who wants one of his players tested secretly for drugs. None of these characters, even Townsend, stands out very clearly, but Vincent's account of Townsend's festering hatred of his job is convincingly acerbic ("" 'Good morning, sir,' said Townsend, as one might greet a fern, and generating an identical response""). And although the criminal manages to be both underdeveloped and too obvious, the motive, which will test your knowledge of bone disease, is a honey. A wry, well-plotted entry in a pleasantly old-fashioned mode.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's