RICEBURNER by Richard Hyer


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Harry Dane, the drab hero of this enervating mystery-debut, is a Chicago-based industrial sleuth. But Dane's connection to crime here comes from his personal life, not from business: arriving for lunch with old flame Cheryl (in from California), Dane watches a Vietnamese restaurant blow up--and among the fatalities is Charlie Halloran, local landlord and brother of Cheryl's California partner-fiancÉ Kevin. Did Cheryl and Kevin set Dane up, attempting to frame him for the bomb-murder? Was the Saigon Cafe explosion linked to Charlie Halloran's dream of turning the area into a ""Little Saigon"" super-mall? What about the shady doings of a rival Chinese restaurant across from the Cafe? And why does a sleazy lawyer (and Vietnam vet) named Marc Dworkin keep hanging around? These questions are potentially intriguing. In Hyer's disjointed, talky narrative, however, all the elements of the puzzle soon become murky and repetitious--while the cliched dialogue (alternately flat and raucous) drones on and the characters remain stubbornly faceless. Only periodic jolts of violent action--knives, guns, bicycles loaded with plastique--provide some relatively lively vignettes. Hard-working but derivative, uninvolving suspense, and probably too long-winded even for an undemanding hard-boiled readership.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Scribners