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Talky first novel in which the plot is mostly hearsay, revealed through gossip, reminiscences, asides, phone calls, notes, etc.--almost anything other than direct action. Free-lance photographer Ingrid Hunter, who supplements her erratic income with office temp work, is on assignment at Bramwell, Stinson & Flint when she bumps into erstwhile school acquaintance Miranda Falk--who has spilled up her nose, her hair-do, her wardrobe, and even her name (used to be plain old Mary) since the old days. Now the much-hated personnel director, Miranda invites Ingrid to lunch, engages in malicious chitchat, ""accidentally"" leaves a key on the table, returns to work--and commits suicide by jumping out a window. Or was she pushed? The key, of course, is the key; and since it's now in Ingrid's possession, she's pummeled (perhaps by her ex-husband), threatened and distrusted by all--including the Flints, both Senior and Junior, whom Miranda may have been blackmailing (dirty business with little girls and designer drags). In piecing together Ingrid's life, Miranda discovers: a drug connection to her ex-husband; pearls that belonged to the first Mrs. Flint; Mrs. Flint (or maybe her nurse) at a drying-out clinic; a strange crew at a real-estate office; several extremely hostile women business executives; a set of old memos; telephone tapes, Miranda's scandalous scrapbooks--and, eventually, the murderer. Perhaps the wordiest variation ever on the locked-room theme. Still, some interesting voices crop up, there's a grand potshot at office politics, and Ingrid's certainly worth a second chance--provided her author improves on the action.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's