LOOKER by Michael Kilian


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Fast-paced thriller with four distinct backgrounds, including a neat chunk of Dominick Dunne turf, by a writer whose talent has taken a knockout leap from preposterous-suspense hack (By Order of the President, Northern Exposure, Blood of the Czars) to first-class murder & mayhem artist. Kilian's novels always have passages of amusingly literate dialogue that promise more than his plots give us. This time out he takes in the Manhattan fashion-model scene (also annexing a subplot on making porno movies), a police procedural with marvelously exact cop talk, the newspaper world of a society columnist amid his hotsytotsy watering holes and famous faces, and a long take on the manners and mores of southern gentry with black blood in their line. Columnist A.C. James is bowled over by top-dollar model Camilla Santee during a noon fashion show at Trump's Plaza. While leaving the hotel, he and Camilla witness a passing motorcyclist slow down, calmly blow the head off a black model beside them on the Central Park South steps, and speed off. As James finds out, Camilla knows the murderer: he's her psychotic stepbrother, and the innocent model's murder was a warning to Camilla. Brought in to lead the investigation is smooth-as-silk black homicide detective Lanham. Between diggings by Lanham and James, the story uncovers a second psychotic stepbrother of Camilla's, who is very much at odds with the first psychotic stepbrother. In fact, Camilla's whole aristocratic southern family is in vast disarrary and is especially compromised by a porno film of Washington-based psycho brother Pierre in bed with the late black model and a second couple doing foursies. Who has the videotape? Meanwhile, James's wife Kitty, who owns his paper, has separated from him and seldom talks with him (by phone) in less than a rage--until she decides to shock him by revealing an adulterous love affair, then asking for his forgiveness and return. The story winds up with a dash of voodoo on an island off the Carolinas. Endless smart dialogue and hard-edged detail that vacuum you into Kilian's worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's