Allen J. Hubin

DICK CLUSTER – Return to Sender. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1988. Reprint paperback: Penguin, 1990.

DICK CLUSTER Return to Sender

   Dick Cluster, a Bostonian newcomer to our field, offers Return to Sender. Alex Glauberman, 40, repairs foreign cars in Boston. He’s divorced with one child who lives with her remarried mother.

   Alex’s current bedmate is a professor, on sabbatical in London. He’s going through chemotherapy for recently diagnosed cancer, and his life and thinking and physical condition are much influenced by this.

   One day, while he is waiting in line at a post office, an elderly man asks him to mail a package to his daughter in Berlin. Alex does so. Later, after Alex sees him being escorted away by a pair of strongarm types, the man returns to ask Alex, for $2500, to go to Germany and retrieve the package.

   Alex had thought to visit London anyway, and agrees. But this proves a most deadly assignment. Sender, with its fresh and intriguing plot and central character, is well worth your attention.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 1989.

Bibliographic Data:    [Taken from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin]

CLUSTER, DICK.   1947- .     Alex Glauberman in all:

DICK CLUSTER Return to Sender

        Return to Sender. Dutton, 1988.
        Repulse Monkey. Dutton, 1989.
        Obligations of the Bone. St. Martin’s, 1992.

Editorial Comment:   I thought the contrast between the two covers is very interesting. As usual for mystery novels of this era, the one on the hardcover is about as stark and minimal as you can get. The cover of the paperback is far more colorful, although perhaps hard to make out what’s really pictured, unless you can look at it closely, but at least (to me) it has something to it that also says Pick Me Up At Least and Look Inside.

   There’s no need to think I’m disparaging Dutton, who published the hardcover. Artists cost money, and I suspect 90% of the sales of this mystery, by a first-time writer, went to libraries sight unseen, and another 9% went to the author’s friends. (A small laugh, hopefully at no one’s expense.)

   By the way, you can’t make it out, but the quote on the paperback is by Tony Hillerman: “Gripping… raises the Mystery into the realm of Literature.”