Following up his debut in The Heaven Stone, Daniel's shamus Alex Rasmussen treads familiar detective-fiction waters for quite a while before events take a decidedly weird turn and the PI swims neatly toward the conclusion. Ex-cop Rasmussen is based in industrial Lowell, Mass., a town nearly as down-and-out as he is. Divorced, lonely, fond of drink, Alex seems a chronic loser. But he's also dogged and capable of abstract thought, characteristics that serve him well when he's hired by the advance man for late-night TV talk-show host Jerry Corbin. Corbin, a local boy returning to Lowell to tape a show, has been receiving threatening mail. Although he has a bunch of ex-wives and a disparate crew of subordinates, his college days provide a choicer pool of suspects, as Rasmussen unearths a secret society with a grudge and an academic with a wandering wife. A low body count and low-level suspense hamper this work until near the end, when two fast deaths occur and Alex gets a couple of sound beatings, emerging much the wiser on both occasions. (Sept.)
This is the second outing for Alex Rasmussen, the Lowell, Massachusetts, private investigator with the misspelled business cards who was introduced in last year's "Heaven Stone". This time, Rasmussen is trying to find out who is sending threatening letters to fading TV talk-show host Jerry Corbin, a Lowell native who is returning to his hometown to premier the new show he hopes will resuscitate his career. Alex has a surfeit of suspects: Jerry has left plenty of skeletons in the closet from his days in Lowell, including several failed love affairs and a questionable victory on a "College Bowl" like quiz show that may have riled the losers sufficiently to pledge eternal vengeance. Meanwhile, Alex falls hard for Chelsea, an assistant on Jerry's show who may know more than she's telling. Daniel is an excellent storyteller with a flair for likable characters and fast-paced dialogue. Although the disappointing climax merges too many disparate elements into too neat a package, his second Rasmussen mystery is a most entertaining book.