SOLO BLUES by Paula Gosling


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Gosling seems to be industriously trying on suspense styles: first a slurpy romantic thriller (Fair Game), then a hijacking ordeal (The Zero Trap), and now a mystery-adventure seemingly modeled on Dick Francis--with music instead of racing as the loner-hero's obsession. Gosling's ironic, downbeat good-guy is divorced London pianist Johnny Cosatelli, who's gotten rich from jazz/rock/commercial work but secretly yearns to return to classical concertizing. But just when such an opportunity appears, Johnny's hand gets smashed (a very Franciscan touch)--by thugs working for Mark Claverton, a shady entrepreneur who's sure that Johnny killed Lisa, a beauty who was mistress to both men. Moreover, someone takes an are to Johnny's Bechstein and shoots at him--just as he's starting a real romance at last with plumply attractive social-worker Beth. So Johnny hires a quiet, aging shamus to get the goods on Claverton, which leads to unsurprising revelations (a stolen-goods ring) and a near-fatal car chase. But the motive behind Lisa's killing is actually a contrived psychosexual one (with echoes of Looking for Mr. Goodbar and Cruising)--as Johnny realizes once he has rescued Beth from an unrelated maniac. Gosling strains too hard for Johnny's cutesy-wisecracking tone, and the romantic moments slip into pastel gush (""This one, this one, her head kept saying, this one I could love""). But the music backgrounds are generally effective, the pacing is steady, and there's enough of Dick Francis' put-upon heroism here to make this Gosling's best book yet.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1981
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan