CLOSE TO A KILLER by Marsha Qualey


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A secondhand bookstore and a beauty salon staffed by ex-cons are the poles around which this taut whodunit spins. Shuttling between Killer Cuts, the shop her mother Daria opened after serving her murder sentence, and An Open Books [sic], where the owner supplies her with the career romances and old photos she's taken to collecting, Barrie, 17, is adjusting to city life after growing up with her father in the suburbs. After two murder victims are linked to Killer Cuts, business takes a nosedive, and Barrie and Daria become the targets of a relentless, anonymous vendetta. Throwing in plenty of likely suspects, Qualey (Thin Ice, 1997) cranks up the suspense, as Barrie's home is vandalized, the shop is torched, and an acquaintance thrown under a moving train; in the end, the murders and the harassment turn out to be the work of an utterly deranged bookseller who attempts to implicate Barrie in his suicide. Although the author doesn't play entirely fair--by introducing crucial evidence only moments before the climax--readers will be engrossed by the drama, the skillfully developed subplots, and a perceptive exploration of characters learning to live with the consequences of their acts.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
Page count: 183pp
Publisher: Delacorte