CLOSE-UP ON DEATH by Maureen O'Brien


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Intriguing up to the last five pages, which wreck the fine work this first-time author has done up to that point. Everybody loved sweet, self-effacing, pretty actress Liza Drew--except, of course, the person who smothered her and enlarged her mouth with acid. Det. Insp. John Bright is convinced that it was one of three--her boyfriend Paul; her best friend Millie; or her mother. Millie and Paul had been a couple until Liza entered drama school. Paul was having an affair. Mrs. Drew was unhealthily attracted to Paul. Bright sets the three against each other (suggesting, for instance, that Millie was jealous of Liza's greater success), and all too quickly Paul and Mrs. Drew are siding against Millie, though she swears she's innocent. Meanwhile, with no proof of anything, the case is dismissed--and though still obsessed with solving it, Bright becomes equally obsessed with Millie. Their affair begins and, with it, Paul and Mrs. Drew's insistence that the case be reopened: Bright was derelict, they say, and his love swayed him from accusing Millie. Was he? Did it? There are hints throughout, but surely they demand a better wind-up than a letter confessing all and a suicide. Anticlimatic, and then some. Still, the various love/hate stories are engrossing and almost, though not quite, compensate for the dreary, corny, let-down ending.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's