Picks and Pans Review: Murder at the Pta Luncheon

updated 02/22/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/22/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Valerie Wolzien

Jan Ick's biggest mistake was grabbing the last canapé on the tray at the annual teachers' luncheon. Paula Porter's was cracking open a packet of artificial sweetener. Soon both of them, pillars of the Hancock Elementary School PTA, are dead—and whoever added those deadly dashes of cyanide to the menu is still at large. Taking more than a few cues from Susan Isaacs' Compromising Positions, first-time novelist Wolzien, a Tenafly, N.J., housewife, places a bored and befuddled suburban woman and a good-looking police detective at the core of her satirical story. Though Wolzien lacks Isaacs' driving wit and occasionally takes a bit too long to move her characters from one room to another, her fiction is credible, and her readers will find a chuckle or two along the neatly mowed trail to the murderer in this gently engaging mystery. (St. Martin's, $16.95)

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