by Marvin Lachman

JON L. BREEN – The Gathering Place. Walker, hardcover, 1984; paperback, September 1986.

JON L. BREEN The Gathering Place

   I’m on record as having serious reservations about occult and horror fiction, feeling most works in those genres are “copouts” in which the authors do not play by the “rules” of reality.

   Jon L. Breen’s The Gathering Place contains one unexplainable element, the ability of its heroine, Rachel Hennings, to, without practice, imitate the signatures of famous authors like ErIe Stanley Gardner. The plot device of automatic writing doesn’t help what is otherwise a classic detective story, but it doesn’t hurt it enough to keep me from recommending thls book.

   The setting is a famous old bookstore, on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, recently inherited by Hennings from her uncle. There is real murder to go with the supernatural, and soon Rachel is acting as detective, with some help from a psychology professor, a reporter, and a Los Angeles Police detective.

   Hennings is a, strong enough character that she probably doesn’t need that many extra detectives. The mystery is crisply told and satisfactorily resolved, by strictly logical means. A real bonus is the atmosphere of an old-fashioned book store as seen through the eyes of an author who obviously loves old books.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 9, No. 2, March/April 1987.

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

      The Gathering Place. Walker, hc, 1984.
      A Piece of the Auction. EQMM, July 1986. [Short story.]
      Starstruck. Murder in Los Angeles, Adams Round Table, Morrow, 1987. [novelette]
      Touch of the Past. Walker, hc, 1988.

JON L. BREEN Touch of the Past

      Rachel and the Bookstore Cat. Danger in D.C., ed. Martin H. Greenberg & Ed Gorman, Donald I. Fine, 1993. [short story]