ROBERT EVERSZ – The Bottom Line Is Murder. Paul Marston & Angel Cantini #1. Viking, hardcover, 1988. Penguin paperback, 1989.

   Paul Marston is described on the back cover as a “wisecracking free-lance corporate investigator,” which sums him up rather well. Along the way in this, his first recorded adventure, he picks up an assistant, a championship boxer (female) named Angel Cantini. She has no other qualifications for the position other than her asking for the job soon after they first meet, and he agrees.

   The set-up for the case is marred by some awkward first person exposition that’s used to introduce Marston to us as a character, then by a series of events that challenge the laws of probability: that is to say, a small private plane comes down in the hills of Los Angeles County; that Marston is close enough not only to see it, but to walk around the scene of the accident without being challenged; only to find that he had worked for the dead man several years ago as a security consultant for the company he was in charge of.

   It seems that the dead man was about to close a big deal involving that same firm, but not all of the members of the family who own it were in favor. Marston decides to stick his own oar in, and thus this mostly medium-boiled tale begins.

   The writing seems to improve as time goes on, but there is no real chemistry involved in Marston’s relationship with his new partner (things move fast). It’s an all-too-familiar case of telling and not showing. The book is also too long. The pages between 172 and the end of the book (page 272) could almost have been eliminated, save of course the final wrap-up.

   The couple had a second book adventure entitled False Profit (Viking, 1990), but if ever I come across it, I believe I’ll pass.