WILLIAM L. DeANDREA – Killed in Paradise. Matt Cobb #5. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1988; paperback, July 1989.

   Officially Matt Cobb is a vice president in charge of special projects for a major TV network, but what that really means is that he’s a troubleshooter who’s put in charge whenever anything goes wrong. Not quite a private eye, but sometimes there’s not a lot of distinction between what he does and what PI’s do. (Think of all of the Hollywood troubleshooters who worked for movie studios in the pulps back in the 30s and 40s and bring them up to date.)

   In this case, though, all he is is a glorified chaperone to the winner of a mystery contest put on by the Network’s FM station in New York City, and a friend of her choice (also female). The top prize? A trip on a cruise liner to an island in the Caribbean and back. The bonus? Also on board are a flock of mystery writers and a mystery scenario that the passengers are asked to play along and solve.

   It is no wonder that the Chapter One is more or less a prologue to a scene that takes place much later in the book, one in which Cobb has just realizes who the killer is, just as he’s about to be tossed overboard. And that’s because otherwise there is no real mystery to be solved for well over a hundred pages, except for the mysterious disappearance of an arrogant mystery writer just after he is thoroughly trounced by Cobb in a not-so-friendly game of ping pong.

   Luckily DeAndrea was a good enough writer with a flair for light comedy and romance to keep the reader going through the not very suspenseful first chunk of the book, as the characters get to know each other (and as Cobb gets to know the prizewinner’s friend very well). Do you know, and to tell you the truth, and I almost wish I didn’t have to bring this up, but I found the ending — the solution to the mystery and all — to be forced and the weakest part of the book. All in all, though, I enjoyed this one, and I’d gladly read more of the series, which I seem to have accidentally jumped into the middle of.

      The Matt Cobb series —

Killed in the Ratings. Harcourt, 1978.
Killed in the Act. Doubleday, 1981.
Killed with a Passion. Doubleday, 1983.
Killed on the Ice. Doubleday, 1984.
Killed in Paradise. Mysterious Press, 1988.
Killed on the Rocks. Mysterious Press, 1990.
Killed in Fringe Time. Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Killed in the Fog. Simon & Schuster, 1996.