ROBERT A. CARTER – Final Edit. Nicholas Barlow #2. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1994. No paperback edition.

   I read the first in the series, Casual Slaughters, and thought it was decent if ot quite as good as the notices it got. Carver is a publishing veteran and a Contributing Editor to Publisher’s Weekly, and this got a starred review from them. No connection, I’m sure.

   Publisher Nicholas Barlow has an Imprint Editor (an editor with his own line of authors who gets credit on the book) who is giving him a lot of problems. Everyone in the firm has feelings toward him that range from dislike to detestation, and one threatens to quit over his actions. Nick is working his way up to firing him and buying out his contract, but before he gets there, the man is murdered in the firm’s offices.

   There’s no shortage of suspects, including to his displeasure, Nicholas himself. So he sets to work with the aid of his brilliant crippled brother to unmask the killer.

   Nicholas Barlow is an amiable character, a throwback in some ways to the bygone era of gentleman sleuths. I liked the publishing background, and though the characters generally well done. It’s a smooth if not exactly gripping read, and though the villain is no real surprise when finally unmasked, the book ends on a bittersweet note.

   Carver breaks no new ground at all in Final Edit, but he does what he’s chosen to do quite well. There are worse things to say about an author and his book.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #15, September 1994.

Editorial Note: This was the second and final case of murder solved by Nicholas Barlow.