A. E. MAXWELL – The King of Nothing. Fiddler & Fiora #7. Villard, hardcover, 1992. Harper, paperback, 1994.

   The “A. E.” stands for Ann and Evan, who are the husband and wife who together write the Fiddler books, and have written several others besides. Their characters are no longer husband and wife, but lovers still. Fiddler is wealthy, by somewhat shady means detailed in the first book in the series; Fiora is wealthier, by virtue of being a financial wheeler-dealer and entrepreneur. You might, without stretching things too far, look at them as a West Coast McGee and Meyer with a little sex and a lot of money thrown in.

   Which is not to say that the Maxwells together are another John D. MacDonald, because they aren’t. They do combine to write very good prose, however, and I have thought highly of the series to date.

   In the latest episode, Fiddler is fishing with an old friend at his place on the coast of Washington. One day the friend makes Fiddler aware that he is to be the executor of his estate, and the recipient of an old Samurai sword, a souvenir of war experiences. The next day the friend is found dead, apparently the victim of a break-in and robbery. The local police do not inspire Fiddler with confidence. Concurrently, Fiora has been in Seattle negotiating with a Japanese conglomerate to sell her financial firm.

   Aha, Samurai sword, Japanese firm — can there be a connection? Well, maybe. Several gory deaths later you find out.

   This wasn’t my favorite of the series, and I’m really not sure why. The plot was a tad far-fetched in places, but most books of this type suffer from that. The writing was competent as usual, and Fiddler and Fiora continue to be engaging characters. At one time I was afraid they were headed toward some of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser-Susan kind of foolishness, but the Maxwells seem to have drawn back in time.

   Oh well, some you like more than others, some less. Still recommended, as are the first six in the series.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #3, September 1992.

      The Fiddler and Fiora series

1. Just Another Day in Paradise (1985)

2. The Frog and the Scorpion (1986)

3. Gatsby’s Vinyard (1987)

4. Just Enough Light to Kill (1988)
5. The Art of Survival (1989)
6. Money Burns (1991)
7. The King of Nothing (1992)
8. Murder Hurts (1993)