June 07, 1999 12:00 PM

by Dennis Lehane

Beach book of the week

Boston private investigator Patrick Kenzie has lost the taste for his business. He is tired of skip-tracing and shutterbugging insurance frauds, of watching “men playing house with bony trophy mistresses.” Then he reads in the newspaper that former client Karen Nichols has jumped to her death from an apartment tower. Kenzie is instantly reengaged. “Okay, Karen,” he says, certain the girl was pushed, one way or another. “I’ll see what I can turn up. I’ll see what I can do.”

In his fifth mystery in a celebrated series, author Dennis Lehane (Gone, Baby, Gone) shows a gift for stringing out scenes and creating tension—sexual, homicidal, you name it—that makes a reader eager to find out what comes next as Kenzie puzzles his way toward a sadistic killer. But don’t race ahead and cheat yourself out of the local pleasures.

Lehane has an inventive grip on the language (a bail-jumper is so stupid he “couldn’t outwit a can of soup”) and a winning way with minor characters. And in pairing Kenzie with sometimes amorous sidekick Angie Gennaro, he creates one of the more memorable P.I. partnerships since Nick and Nora Charles. (Morrow, $25)

Bottom Line: Answered prayer for a summer mystery reader

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