AN AMERICAN KILLING by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

AN AMERICAN KILLING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A mostly entertaining whodunit featuring Denise Burke, a spunky, “pathologically cynical,” bestselling true-crime journalist poking into a triple murder that exposes the sordid secrets of a philandering US congressman. Stepping away from the tormented New England eccentrics of her previous novels, (Masters of Illusion, 1994, etc.), Smith introduces a likely series character: a have-it-all woman writer who is so fabulously successful (her book on the O.J. Simpson case was not only the biggest seller of the pack, she boasts, but she even let Dominick Dunne crib from her notes) and so close to Capitol Hill, thanks to White House policy-advisor husband Nick, that Hillary Clinton has extended a standing invitation to babysit her kids. Coming off her O.J. book, Burke follows up on a tip from womanizing bachelor Congressman Owen Hall about Eddie Baines, a black man who might have been falsely convicted of murdering the Montevallo family in the decaying factory town of New Caxton, Rhode Island. Burke leaves a note for her perfect kids and perpetually preoccupied husband at their home in Alexandria, reopens her beautifully rustic family beach house in Connecticut, and discovers violent, sadly pathetic tragedy lurking in the shadows off Main Street. Meanwhile, a sexy affair blossoms between Burke and Hall, whose interest in her investigation becomes ominous. Before Hall can stop Burke from probing further, he winds up dead in a prostitute’s bed. Burke’s eventual discovery—that the lives of the high and mighty are inexorably tangled among the low and the weak—is no surprise. The story’s appeal is in the author’s coyly drawn friends, such as the vampish FBI agent Poppy Rice and the sullen small-town newspaper columnist Leo Schatz, and in her dizzy take on the glittering life of a celebrity journalist who can’t see the evil in her own backyard. Frothy fun that, when the narrator isn’t gossiping about the Clintons or prattling about her fictitious successes, offers numerous compassionate glimpses of dead-end small-town life. (First printing of 75,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8050-5702-1
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
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