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May 04, 1981 12:00 PM

by Richard Barth

The “plot” is a city garden, not the story line of this carefully wrought mystery. In Barth’s The Rag Bag Clan, Margaret Binton, the little old lady heroine, was menaced by evil drug dealers, but she led and lost them on a memorable chase through the New York subways. In this sequel, she helps some tough youngsters plant a garden on a vacant lot and, in the process, digs up a box of stolen diamonds. There’s additional skulduggery, as in the grisly murder of a friendly groundkeeper at Yankee Stadium. Barth, who teaches jewelry design in Manhattan and writes as a sideline, sticks to time-tested rules for whodunits. His heroine is so chipper it’s impossible to believe Helen Hayes hasn’t already been signed for the movie. (Dial, $10.95)

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