"The Shimmering Blond Sister"
by David Handler
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, 249 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James
Mitch Berger-- New York City newspaper film critic now e-zine-ing in his reviews from his awesomely located oceanside cottage near historic Dorset, Connecticut-- can reference films and their dialogue like Roger Ebert channeling Pauline Kael channeling Bosley Crowther.
He's all up into Alfred Hitchcock's oeuvre, including the not-quite-up-to-snuff-for-Hitch ("Spellbound" and "The Paradine Case," although you must admit: the leading cast members in both are all at the prime of their gawgeouness) to the superior ("North by Northwest," and a big high-five to that, worth it for the train ride as much as for the cropduster and Mt. Rushmore scenes).
So, anyone who writes about someone who is so into Hitchcock-- and all film noir-- ought to be able to construct a decent mystery, and author David Handler most assuredly can.
A well-constructed mystery ought to be solvable, say, three-fourths to seven-eighths into the story, as this one is. Otherwise, the plot probably defies logic.
As the curtain rises on Handler's seventh Berger and Mitry mystery, Dorset's summertime crowd is having its last pre-Labor Day hurrah.
Meanwhile, someone in the historic district of the Long Island Sound resort is cooling off a certain part of his anatomy, flashing little old society ladies.
Is he just some pranksterish high-school kid givng an eleventh-finger salute to the farewell of the season?
Or is he someone who poses a greater threat? Could be. Somebody's about to get bashed in the back of the head.
Are the flashing and bashing connected?
Berger's unofficially on the case, via his romantic entanglements with state trooper Des(iree) Mitry. Not that they aren't enjoying a last blast of summer themselves, out on Big Sister, the little island in the Sound connected to Dorset by a gated wooden causeway.
There's fresh corn on Berger's grill, ice-cold Coronas in his fridge, and lavender oil in the sleeping loft.
Sounds pretty close to paradise.
The author handles (well, you knew that one was comng) his locale and large, diverse cast with aplomb. A former chorine turned society matron almost steals the production.
Grab a hot dog and enjoy the show.
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