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    Review of MURDER IN A HEAT WAVE by Gretchen Sprague


    Thomas Dunne, St. Martin's Minotaur, March 2003

    Martha Patterson returns to New York after a trip to San Francisco to find that her apartment cooperative has lost its air conditioning--in a heat wave. Cooperative politics are bad enough in the best of times. Broken air conditioning sets the residents on the war path. Retired attorney Martha considers allowing her neighbors to draft her to run for the coop board. Still, although there are plenty of fighting words, she doesn't expect anyone to get killed.

    When Martha finds coop President Arnold Stern dead, the list of suspects is almost as long as the list of residents. He'd managed to offend many, and was thought to have had his way with a number of the apartment's women as well. Martha tries to leave the investigation to the police but finds herself drawn to it.

    Author Gretchen Sprague writes convincingly of New York and of the life of a retired attorney. Martha is sympathetic, with all of the aches, pains, and concerns of a mature woman. Sprague offers a convincing lot of red herrings, along with one person with a motive for murder. I would have liked to see more detecting and a bit less blind luck, but MURDER IN A HEAT WAVE makes entertaining reading for, uh, a heat wave.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 3/31/03

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