Death Likes It Hot
Gore Vidal writing as Edgar Box
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, Mar 22 2011, $14.95
Wealthy socialite Mrs. Veering hires Manhattan based public relations specialist man Peter Sargeant II to announce her end of summer gala. Peter leaves Manhattan via the Long Island Cannon Ball Express for the posh North Dunes of Easthampton on a job he looks forward to performing as a summer escape from the heat of the city.
He enjoys sunning and playing in the surf especially with Harper’s Bazaar fashion reporter Liz Bessemer. However, his fun in the sun ends when his client’s niece Mildred Brexton dies while swimming near a crowded beach in what everyone assumes is a horrific accident. When the police find an overdose of sleeping pills in Mildred’s stomach, they believe she committed suicide but do not rule out homicide. While the cops investigate, Peter watches the reactions of family members of the victim to include his client, the victim’s cramp spouse, and her two siblings. He knows the predator is debonair, intelligent and sophisticated.
This is a terrific amateur sleuth supported by an amusing clash of the classes; mindful of the movie Laura. Fast-paced with a wicked and timely lampooning of the New York upper crust, Death Likes It Hot is a fabulous tale from the moment Sargeant and Veering meet and never slows down while he observes the rich and famous go about their lives as if a death is tea time.