STEVEN FRIMMER – Dead Matter. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, hardcover, 1982. Detective Book Club, hardcover, 3-in-1 reprint edition.

   The beginning writer is often admonished to “write what you know,” sometimes over and over again. Steven Frimmer is an editor at a New York publishing house, and he’s probably had occasion to give this same advice to a good many fledgling authors over the, years — and all of them more or less receptive, I’m sure!

   But if it’s so, he certainly practices what he preaches, as he most capably demonstrates here.

   This is Frimmer’s first venture into mystery fiction. Involved in this tale is a senior editor at a small New York publishing house (surprise!) and lots of dastardly doings in the world of books: in-fighting, back-stabbing, and love-making, plus a totally unexpected spy trip to Istanbul, courtesy of the CIA.

   All the makings, in fact, of a truly funny and engaging little thriller.

   Back in New York a murder is also committed, and a new detective emerges on the scene: British personality-host Hartley Dobbs — sort of a David Frost with an affinity for crime.

   For those who pride themselves on their armchair detecting ability, too much of what happens is forced to take place offstage, and the reader is left to learn about it too late to do any good.

   The fascinating world of editing and publishing offers more than mere background, however. Tied up and neatly integrated into both the crime and its solution is the psychology of the people who work with books — and the way they think. It’s a plus, and it’s nicely done.

Rating: B

รขโ‚ฌโ€œ Reprinted and slightly revised from The MYSTERY FANcier, September/October 1982.

Bibliographic Update: This was, alas, Steven Frimmer’s only venture into the world of detective fiction.