Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Emerald Cat Killer-Richard A. Lupoff

The Emerald Cat Killer
Richard A. Lupoff
Minotaur, Aug 31 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312648138

International Surety Special Projects Unit Detached Service director Desmond Richelieu asks retired insurance investigator Hobart Lindsey to work one last complicated case. Hobart agrees not out of some loyalty to his unlikable former boss, but because the inquiry is the type he relishes.

One year ago someone murdered mystery writer Gordon Simmons who wrote his colorful noirs under the alias Wallace Thompson. The case remains cold but the insurance firm paid off the death claim. Now the Widow Angela Simmons and publisher Marston and Morse are suing Berkley based Gordian House, a client of IS, over the latter publishing a hard-boiled detective tale The Emerald Cat by Steve Damon that Angela claims was written by her late spouse. The chief of the Walnut Creek branch of IS makes it clear that Hobart is unwelcome and the Berkley police tell him to stick to the insurance side of the case. At Gordian House, Hobart learns the firm owns the book having bought the rights from Damon’s agent Rachael Gottlieb. As he investigates the widow’s claim that the book is on her spouse’s PC and Damon killed him, his former lover Berkley Police Sergeant Marvia Plum joins him (see Cover Girl Killer and The Radio Red Killer).

Although readers know the killer before Hobart takes on the case, The Emerald Cat Killer is an exhilarating insurance investigation. The cast is strong as Hobart makes the rounds of eccentric characters. His relationship with Marvia is terrific to follow as long time fans will testify and the look at the publishing industry cutthroat charming. Although the killer’s poor mental health feels unnecessarily forced and intruding, readers will enjoy Lindsey’s inquiry into a plagiarism claim.

Harriet Klausner

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