Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sleight of Hand-Robin Hathaway

Sleight of Hand
Robin Hathaway
St. Martin's, Apr 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780312370923

In New Jersey, Dr. Jo Banks rides her motorcycle to Bridgeton Hospital where she works. However, she does not have a smooth commute as she finds an executed corpse that reminds her of a gangster movie. At Bridgeton, everyone gossips about the deceased she saw with the prevalent belief being he was a Philadelphia "gangsta".

On her way home, Jo hears what sounds like a printing press near the crime scene. She stops to look and inside a barn she observes a man diligently working at the printing press when his hand becomes stuck in the roller. Using his free hand, Max pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot Jo if she fails to free him. After she does, he points the gun at his Down syndrome daughter Lolly claiming he will kill her if Jo fails to return with proper equipment to perform surgery on his crushed hand. More for Lolly’s sake, Jo agrees wondering why Max rejects hospitalization.

The third Dr. Banks “S” thriller (see SATAN’S PONY and SCARECROW) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth tale although the initial encounter between Max and Jo seems implausible. Still fans will join with Jo wondering why Max rejects hospitalization and why he uses his daughter as a blackmailing pawn. Moving past the opening two dominoes (the road kill and the initial meeting) of the plot, readers will find SLEIGHT OF HAND turns into an exciting mystery.

Harriet Klausner