Picks and Pans Review: Murder for Lunch

updated 06/23/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/23/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Haughton Murphy

For fans of the genteel, absolutely no-gore mystery novel, here's a welcome specimen. Chase & Ward is a prestigious Wall Street law firm. A member of the Executive Committee has an apparent heart attack at lunch before the horrified eyes of several partners. Reuben Frost, the former chief who has been feeling ignored since his retirement, still has a small office in the building. He accidentally discovers that the victim's carafe of water turns a desk blotter brown. An autopsy indicates natural death, but the firm's private eye finds that the carafe contained a deadly drug dose. The New York police are called. The detective who shows up is a 6-foot Puerto Rican, and he and the elderly Reuben become a team: "Siegfried and Benno, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Othello and Iago." The murder victim had been having an affair with another partner's wife; some stolen papers suggest stock manipulation. The solution is fair and altogether satisfactory. Murphy, a Manhattan lawyer using a pseudonym, has set his crime in the New York staked out by novelist Louis Auchincloss, the land of the pedigreed and wealthy. It seems to be an ideal place for murder. (Simon and Schuster, $14.95)

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