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A Small Sacrifice

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Artistic director Cordelia Thorn and four of her former college coterie-all theater majors-plan an "intervention" for the sixth member of their group: alcoholic friend Diana, who has opened a playhouse in Summer Green, Wisconsin. When one of their number dies at the table, suspicious Cordelia calls upon astute sleuth (and lesbian restaurateur) Jane Lawless for help. Heated interrogations and frantic surveilling apparently bring them no closer to the truth; meanwhile, Diana continues to indulge. Hart (A Killing Cure, LJ 9/1/93) reveals herself to be a fine author as she deftly handles this sexually diverse batch of characters, rural setting, and focused plot.

"Cordelia and Jane are at their wise-cracking, risk-taking best as they tail suspects, stake out a sleazy motel, and burn rubber in a high-speed chase. As in all of Hart's well-written, fast-paced novels, motives abound, clues appear and disappear, and suspects seem alternately harmless and menacing....A Small Sacrifice is another entertaining addition to Hart's collection." -- Lambda Book Report "Hart tells the story of this fateful reunion with deep compassion, strong psychological insight, bravura wit, and a clever plot." -- Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

In the fifth superior Jane Lawless mystery, St. Paul theater director Cordelia Thorn and five old college chums from the '70's rally to help a sixth, alcoholic actress Diana Stanwood: they are going to visit Diana's new theater in Wisconsin and, with the help of a therapist, persuade Diana to enter a clinic. But, as Cordelia observes, ``something isn't right.'' Much of what's wrong swirls around Theo Donati, an enigmatic classmate who spent seven years in prison for impersonating an IRS agent back in college. He is the object of Diana's unexplained hostility; his presence sends a ripple through the shaky marriage of Curt and Annie Whittig (Theo and Curt were once lovers); and a barroom brawl erupts between him and former roommate Orson Albern. When Theo dies of apparently ``natural'' causes, Cordelia summons Jane to help investigate. Hart (A Killing Cure) sends Jane and Cordelia, who are lesbians but not lovers, through an absorbing plot that is driven by romantic and competitive connections that convincingly cross genders. A finale with a twist surprises while staying fully in keeping with what has gone before. (Oct.)

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