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    KILLER COMMUTE by Marlys Millhiser


    St. Martin's Minotaur, October 2000

    Charlie Greene plans on a vacation at home. When she finds one of her neighbors killed in his car, the vacation turns into a nightmare of murder, bombings, and suspicion. The neighbor, Jeremy Fielder, didn't exist, according to police records. Somehow, without Charlie noticing, Jeremy had turned their condo complex into something of a fortress--one that would be hard for a stranger to get into. Given almost everyone else has an alibi, Charlie becomes the cops' favorite suspect.

    Intermittently deafened by a bombing that wrecked Jeremy’s place, Charlie knows she’d better find the real killer before she’s arrested for a murder she didn’t commit. At the same time, she wonders what she will do if she can’t continue in her career as a literary agent--and an agent definitely needs her hearing. Fortunately, Charlie has plenty of friends. Unfortunately, it's just possible that one of them is somehow involved in the killing.

    The more Charlie learns, the deeper the mystery grows. Everyone had liked Jeremy, but once in a while he had acted differently. Could he have been involved with organized crime? She is convinced her eighty-something neighbor knows something, but why would she lie? At the same time, Charlie wonders about where her own life is going. Her daughter, Libby, is growing up fast and Charlie's most frequent male escort is beautifully handsome but terribly gay.

    Marlys Millhiser (see all reviews of novels by this author) has put together all of the elements of a winner mystery but doesn't quite connect all the threads. Charlie is a sympathetic character, and her intermittent deafness (which the cops and everyone else assure her is impossible and so she must be faking) makes her even more sympathetic. KILLER COMMUTE sparkles with occasional bon-mots, bigger than life characters, and truly annoying cats. In the end, Millhiser pulls out an acceptable and enjoyable story but I was left with the feeling that something was missing.

    Two Stars

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