DEATH OF A DORMOUSE by Patrick Ruell


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Under the Ruell pseudonym, mystery-veteran Reginald Hill occasionally writes romantic suspense (Castle of the Demon, Red Christmas). And this outlandish thriller features--in a somewhat dour variation on an old formula--the transformation of a shy, dowdy widow (the ""dormouse"" of the title) into a tough, Cynical heroine battling against an evil conspiracy. When her husband Trent dies in a road accident, 45-ish, agoraphobic Trudi Adamson--who has lived a childless, sheltered life--must come out of her shell, especially since Trent, despite his apparent prosperity as a travel-agency exec (stationed all over Europe, only recently in England), has left her near-penniless. Urged on by chum Janet, Trudi looks into Trent's business--and starts making unnerving discoveries: bank accounts under pseudonyms, a secret rural hideaway (with a disappearing corpse!), and an amorous associate in Vienna (who soon turns up dead). Furthermore, Trudi herself is virtually kidnapped by Austrian agents--who reveal that Trent's old firm is a front for international drag-smuggling. . .and that millions in drug-money have disappeared! Where's the loot? The shadowy drug-biggies--and their ruthless agents--believe that Trudi knows the answer. So, while trying to deal with the awful truth about her husband and her marriage, Trudi--before zeroing in on a certain Swiss bank account--is assaulted, grabbed, locked up, terrorized. . .and very courteously courted and bedded by a terribly nice (yet faintly suspicious) gentleman. Trudi, going from one extreme (25 years of marriage without suspecting a thing) to the other (skeptical and gutsy), is a not-very-convincing heroine. The paranoia-fest of a plot is equally strained. So, despite a few clever twists and the polished narration, this is an off-kilter genre entry--too softheaded for the action/espionage readership, not romantic (or pleasant) enough for most connoisseurs of damsels-in-distress.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine