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 Gibbs (Shadow Queen, 1992) returns with another thriller starring Diana Speed, a tall, brainy, former politician's wife who works at Wild-Freeman publishing for a mysterious boss. First, a controversial, Karen Finleylike performance artist named Magdalen Tyrrell is humiliated by Rep. Philemon Fielding of Arkansas during a subcommittee hearing, and then Fielding is murdered outside of a porno theater in Times Square. Still pumped up from this success (it's clear that Tyrrell is responsible for the politician's murder), Tyrrell decides to confront the man she suspects of being her estranged father, who is none other than Roger Channing, owner of Wild-Freeman. He rejects her and incurs her wrath. As a result, Channing hires a reformed-alcoholic security guard named Eric Szabo, who is to be put on the payroll immediately as an assistant editor, although his real job will be to protect Channing. Soon an anonymous phone call tips Channing off that the threat has been expanded to cover 546 people, and the dynamic duo of Speed and Szabo are hot on Tyrrell's trail. Channing's character is frankly silly (he holds private meetings in a private railroad car named ``Utopia Parkway'' that he keeps parked in Manhattan's Grand Central Station). But Speed is a likable, naturally curious lead, and Szabo makes a good-natured sidekick. Some of the intrigue here, particularly the intra-office machinations at Wild-Freeman, where several employees suspect that Szabo has been brought on board solely because he is Speed's lover, is over the top (if only publishing were this exciting). But Gibbs keeps the action coming fast and furious, so it's easy to push past those annoying details and get back to more good stuff. One complaint: The title reveals one of the novel's carefully tended secrets sooner than it should. Ridiculous, but enjoyable and hard to put down.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89296-474-X
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994


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