Picks and Pans Review: The Suspense Is Killing Me

updated 10/29/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/29/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Thomas Maxwell

A tale of the sort that resonates through our pop mythology is at the core of this mystery. In the '60s, rock star J.C. Tripper died at the peak of his popularity under mysterious circumstances in Tangier. But rumors persist that Tripper faked his own death.

The music business being what it is, the psychedelic bard has become a major corporate asset. Tripper's brother, Lee, a drug burnout survivor, is living handsomely on his sibling's legacy. He's approached by a reclusive author to establish once and for all the nature of J.C.'s final disposition.

This novel, by pseudonymous writer Thomas (Kiss Me Once) Maxwell—he also writes thrillers under his real name, Thomas Gifford—starts with a jolt, Lee makes for a clever if elliptical narrator. But his amusingly cynical tone is largely abandoned once Maxwell gets the story running, the scenery flying by and the bodies dropping.

Though loosely plotted, the novel makes for a fun ride. If the subject appeals to you, try P.F. Kluge's Eddie and the Cruisers, which covered similar ground more suspensefully. (Mysterious Press, $19.95)

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