Unbeknownst to him, someone is out to frame Josh Mitchell for the murder of an attractive woman he recently met on an airplane trip to San Francisco, a woman who in reality had been killed eight years before in Mississippi
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Frase's second suspense novel (Fatal Gift, 1996) moves from his former venue of Nashville to Carmel, California, where well-to-do Josh Mitchell finds his past slipping away when a beautiful woman's body rolls up on the beach. Flying from New York to San Francisco, Mitchell, a top salesman, finds a gorgeous, intelligent, and blond art historian seated beside him in first class. Their six hours together blow him instantly and deeply into love, and the feeling seems mutual. They dine in Carmel, then she comes to his hotel room for a talk. Next morning her drowned body lies on the beach, and the suicide note she's left indicates that her name is not Pamela Morrow, as she'd told Mitchell, but Dianne Lane. As it happens, art historian Dianne Lane had headed a museum funded by a reclusive billionaire and may have been his longtime mistress. He has recently died, under mysterious circumstances. And now, Mitchell becomes the chief suspect in what turns out to be Pamela/Dianne's murder. Soon the FBI is after him, as well as a gaggle of hit men. Meanwhile, in an attempt to penetrate the mystery surrounding Pamela/Dianne's death, Mitchell flies to Jackson, Mississippi, looks into Pamela's history and questions her old friends, including mulatto Marie Edwards. Marie tells him that Pamela died in a freak car accident eight years ago, and newspaper articles confirm this. How can he free himself from police harassment if he can't figure out whether Pamela and Dianne were the same person? And who, in fact, was Dianne Lane? Readers will have intuited some answers fairly early, and the explanations that come seem skimpy even, shall we say, pathetic. And for a work turning on art historians, there's precious little talk of art. Still, the legitimate suspense of the chase keeps one intrigued--until a rather too obvious fairy-tale ending billows up both true love and gazillions of dollars. (First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
A mysterious femme fatale plunges a corporate aircraft salesman into a world of deception and murder in Frase's new thriller (after Fatal Gift), an initially high-flying affair that gets pulled to earth by some problematic prose and a far-fetched ending. Josh Mitchell, the handsome, successful salesman for California-based Barnett Air, meets his theoretical match in Pamela Morrow, a stunning blonde he befriends on a cross-country business flight. The romantic buildup leads to an unfulfilling tryst at his Carmel hotel, but Mitchell still believes he's met the woman of his dreams until she disappears and the dead body of her apparent doppelg?nger washes up on a nearby beach the next morning. Soon he finds himself the primary suspect in the murder of Dianne Lane, a wealthy San Francisco museum curator. The mystery eventually leads Mitchell to Natchez, Miss., where the lives of the two women intersected. Along the way, he finds himself tailed by a mysterious assassin and a convoy of FBI agents, learns that his employer has set him up and must go into hiding while he pieces together the identity puzzle. Frase tiptoes around the obvious connections between the two mystery women quietly enough, but the obligatory happy ending makes a granny knot of the novel's many loose ends and will disappoint even readers who have accepted Frase's uninspired narration and dialogue as the price of an entertaining plot. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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