CIPHERED by Scott Keeeh


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Introducing Inspector Jeff Adams, youngish cop in a midwest university town--who's a welcome, literate addition to the sleuth game, even if this first case is ultimately an overextended disappointment. Keech begins well, with genuine horror, as the professor father of Jeff's girlfriend Kate discovers the bloody bodies of his neighbors--Professor and Mrs. Ernst Feith. Possible motives abound (Feith was an unpopular martinet dabbling in biochemical research, his wife was a John Bircher, their flaky son and miserable daughter stand to inherit a fortune). Nobody's alibi holds up. And then Jeff starts discovering sheets of cipher code--plus three more professor bodies, suggesting that perhaps refugee Feith was involved in spying. But any folks who've read Christie's A.B.C. Murders will recognize excessive red herrings when they see them, and Keech takes too long to clear them away and reveal the culprit--the Most Likely Suspect all along. Still, much of the writing here is flesh and unstuffily erudite (though the Jeff-Kate romance verges on the yuksome, as when he calls her ""A wanton, wild, winsome, wonderful wench. My wench""); and we'll hope to hear this basically attractive storytelling voice in better mysteries ahead.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row