From PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, November 3, 2003 
      Amazingly, MWA Grand Master McBain remains as fresh and sharp-edged as ever in his 53rd 87th Precinct novel (after 2003's Fat Ollie's Book), which takes on the culture of celebrity.

     Bison Records' self-styled impresario Barney Loomis runs into a snag in his effort to catapult his newest performer, Tamar Valparaiso, to stardom. As Tamar is lip-synching the provocative video of her first album aboard a rented yacht, two men in Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat masks snatch her before a stunned audience.

     With his usual expert pacing, McBain alternates the action among a number of characters, including the kidnappers and Tamar; series stalwart Steve Carella, who must endure political maneuvering within a Joint Task Force of police bigwigs and FBI agents; and misogynist Ollie Weeks and his new amour, Det. Patricia Gomez.

     McBain injects enough humor to leaven the underlying tragedy -- the fate of a vulnerable, talented young woman.   True-to-life dialogue, skill at defining characters and effortless transitions.  The Lewis Carroll theme provides an extra level of enjoyment. (Jan. 2)

FYI: McBain is only one of two Americans (the other being Sara Paretsky) to win a Diamond Dagger, the highest award from the British Crime Writers Association.


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 Evan Hunter
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