LONG LINES by Remar Sutton


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Part down-and-dirty crime novel, part senior-citizen gothic, part police-procedural: a derivative, mishmash-y fiction debut for journalist Sutton (Don't Get Taken Every Time), who spreads a modest talent too thin here. Evelyn Wade, 73, does telephone-survey work in Atlanta--and one night, in a call to Chicago, overhears what sounds like an attack (perhaps fatal!) on a teen-ager at a ""body shop."" Then, while Evelyn tries to interest the police and do some long-distance sleuthing, the reader meets the killer: suave cocaine-addict Rick Kanell, ambitious lieutenant to Chicago vice-king Anton Vicovari, whose crime/porn empire is based at that body shop (a car-theft center). Meanwhile, too, we're introduced to Chicago cop Dean Buettner (Auto Theft Division), whose secretary is secretly sleeping with both Vicovari and Kanell--and selling info to Kanell's primary mob rival, a fat, psycho-sadistic pederast named Angelo Weiner. Eventually, of course, these plots converge with Evelyn's Miss Marple act. Buettner (source of some hokey humor) closes in on the mobsters but targets Weiner instead of Kanell as the teen-ager's killer; Kanell learns that Evelyn can identify his voice--and sets out to kill her once he disposes of Weiner. And everybody winds up in Atlanta, where Evelyn gets lots of protection. . .but is left implausibly alone, ripe for a formula-finale, once Weiner--but not Kanell--is nabbed. Readers who like Evelyn (and her widower suitor) probably won't care for the darkly detailed sex-drugs-and, gore (acid-throwing, murder mid-fellatio) in the crime/cop chapters. And vice versa. So there'll be limited enthusiasm for this contrived melodrama, which has enough patches of suspense and charm to promise better, less busy things ahead.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1987
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson