DEAD MATTER by Steven Frimmer


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Frimmer's gently satiric sketch of life at a small N.Y. publishing house is the primary appeal in this pleasantly told, limply plotted mystery debut--which is narrated by editor Howard Miller of Redwood Press. And things move around briskly in the first half--as nice Howard gets a new writer (TV crime-expert Hartley Dobbs), finds tart romance at the ABA in Chicago, and is sent to Istanbul by his CIA-connected boss Emory to pick up a hot manuscript by a Sakharov-like dissident. (The trip, ironically, is more Hoboken than Graham Greene.) But when Howard returns, he finds that fellow editor Minnie has been murdered. . . just after she discovered a second copy of the manuscript (now disappeared) in the office slush pile! Was it the KGB, as Emory loudly proclaims? And why does the stolen manuscript then turn up in Howard's office? The answers, unfortunately, are neither surprising nor very credible--and don't surface until after talky sessions with Hartley Dobbs, a Nero Wolfe manquÉ. But, for insiders and for the curious: some low-key, book-world amusement.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1982
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston