WORSE THAN DEATH by Thomas Bunn
Kirkus Star

WORSE THAN DEATH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It's been 12 years since Bunn's one previous mystery, Closet Bones. Judging from this intricate story about a kidnapped adoptive baby, that's been much too long. The baby is Mai Toland, a Vietnamese child her desperate parents Dirk and Nora Toland secured through a disreputable agency headed by Sam Agnew. When Mai is snatched from her sitter Xuan, and Agnew, who's already milked the Tolands for $7000, demands $10,000 more for her return, the distraught stepparents--who can't go to the police without revealing their own implication in Agnew's shady schemes--turn to Joyce O'Connell and her husband Jack Bodine, a Lansing private eye who hasn't investigated much since the death of his father. Jack and Joyce make an attractive team, but the real team here is Jack and his eight-year-old son Eddie, whom he drags along on stakeouts because he feels guilty about leaving him with a sitter. Amid discussions with Eddie about what it's like to find a dead body (Thanh Chi's, Mai's birth mother--and baby-sitter Xuan's as well), what Jack's trying to do for the Tolands, and why you shouldn't give people the finger, Jack unravels the connections among Agnew's network of surrogate mothers, Thanh Chi's love life, and Dirk Toland's tour of duty in Vietnam. The mystery is fine, but Jack's narrative is even finer--a mixture of medium-boiled professionalism, self-deprecating wit, and paternal compassion that could mark him as the detective of the 90's.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Henry Holt