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Rather grim fare for Whalley, whose usual preference is for lightly comic thrillers (Love and Murder; Robbers; Old Murders). This relentlessly somber tale of murder domestic features the restless Angela--wife of the much older Gerald and stepmother of Steve (barely three years younger than she)--who is also having a fling with oldish antiques dealer Philip and receiving threatening letters from someone who's spied on her. When the request for money finally arrives, Angela confides in Philip, who accidentally knocks her down and kills her. Then Steve and his gift Diana happen on the letters and--with full enthusiasm (but no encouragement from the police)--seek out the poison penman: perhaps he will know who Angela's lover was, and who killed her. Meanwhile, Gerald, now twice a widower, is steadily, emotionally declining; the letter-writer is rationalizing that God has already punished the wicked for her ways; and Philip is covering his tracks--but not carefully enough. Soon, his nibs is in jeopardy, as is Steve, and the gloomy, almost preordained finale includes two more deaths. Despite several twists, this is too predictable for even moderately savvy readers--and less successful than Whalley in more puckish humor.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Doubleday