Kirkus Star


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A dark-hued case for Angleby's introspective Inspector Ben Jurnet (Stately Homicide, etc.). With his beautiful Miriam in Israel and troubled by his decision to convert to Judaism for her, Ben is trying to solve the murder of famed physicist Max Flaschner. The aged and ailing Nobel Laureate was star guest at a dinner kicking off a conference of world-class scientists, hosted by the city of Angleby. At his table was a gaggle of eccentrics headed by Max's adopted, adored gypsy son, Tawno Smith, himself a renowned physicist who was to present a much-anticipated paper the following day. Other guests included awkward Reverend Simon Maslin; his oddly youthful wife Claire and handsome young son Christopher; Max's old friend and fellow Holocaust survivor Efrem Ahilar, just arrived from Israel; and his stunning granddaughter Esther, with eyes only for Tawno, while Christopher has eyes only for her. Ben is there, too, as part of security, when Flaschnet suffers a heart attack, is given orange juice by Tawno, and dies. The juice is found to be poisoned, and Tawno meant to be the victim. The house shared by Max and his son has been vandalized, and all copies of the earthshaking paper have vanished. There are complications galore as Jurnet explores the mixedup lives of those closest to the dead man. A suicide; a trip to Israel; a wildly improbable solution, and a grisly aftermath bring to an end a story slowed by a surfeit of tony talk and broody philosophizing. Tawno's much-vaunted magnetism is lost on the reader, making him just one more neurotic in this prize collection; but highly polished style, nearsurreal atmosphere, and never hackneyed plotting make a novel far above average for the genre if not quite equal to the author's best.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's