STATE'S EVIDENCE by Stephen Greenleaf


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Another overlong, over-contrived but very well-written mystery for shamus/narrator John Marshall Tanner (Grave Error, Deathbed), this time working for a crusading D.A. in the corrupt California town of El Gordo. Tanner's job: to find Mrs. Teresa Blair, who--until she disappeared--was the key prosecution witness (an innocent bystander) in a hit-and-run case against El Gordo's leading mobster/power-broker, Tony Fluto. Has Teresa been grabbed by Fluto's men? Or has she fled in fear? Those would seem to be the likely scenarios--till Tanner's sleuthing shows Teresa herself (40-ish, beautiful) to be a mysterious figure with lots of quirky relationships. There's her weird Zen-monkish husband; her devoted neighbor (who sees Teresa as a saint); her tennis-club chum (who reveals Teresa's zipless sex-life); her senile mother in a home, her seedy sister in a slum; her shady Las Vegas past, with a mobsterish first husband. And though Tanner is threatened and arsonized, he does find Teresa--in Tahoe--and brings her back to testify. End of story? Hardly. Because Teresa pulls a switcheroo on the witness stand. And Tanner must then look for another witness to that hit-and-run--a quest which uncovers (with a couple of bodies and rough showdowns) an implausible web of secret blood-ties. Still, this is less farfetched than Deathbed and features Greenleaf's fresh, tough prose: ""Tony Fluto was definitely a presence in El Gordo, sort of the way the stockyards used to be a presence in Chicago."" So the R. Macdonald audience should be interested, despite the slow pace, the tinny tangles. . . and the downright historic (for a genre-mystery) cover charge.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1982
Publisher: Dial