Allen J. Hubin

COLLIN WILCOX A Death Before Dying

COLLIN WILCOX – A Death Before Dying. Henry Holt, hardcover, 1990; paperback, 1994.

   A Death Before Dying is the latest of Collin Wilcox’s novels about San Francisco homicide department chief Frank Hastings. The ingredients are here: wicked men (with a dip of the hat to a famous murder case and Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood), personal involvement for Hastings, an array of characters, police procedure.

   But for me the story remained mechanical, without real emotion. One day Hastings encounters a childhood friend, now grown into a notable beauty. Desperate, too, it would seem, though she doesn’t say much about that.

   Too bad: the next view Frank has of her is her strangled corpse. The investigation begins: she lived well, without an obvious source. A kept woman, presumably, but by whom? Gradually the pieces begin to add up in very nasty fashion….

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 12, No. 4, Fall 1990.

     The Lt. Frank Hastings series —

The Lonely Hunter (1969)
The Disappearance (1970)
Dead Aim (1971)
Hiding Place (1973)
Doctor, Lawyer…. (1975)
Long Way Down (1975)
Aftershock (1975)
The Third Victim (1977)
Twospot (1978; in collaboration with Bill Pronzini, whose Nameless detective also appears)
Power Plays (1979)
Mankiller (1980)
Stalking Horse (1982)
Victims (1985)
Night Games (1986)
The Pariah (1988)
A Death Before Dying (1990)
Hire a Hangman (1991)
Dead Center (1992)
Switchback (1993)
Calculated Risk (1995)