The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb-David Handler

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb
David Handler
Minotaur, Mar 25 2014, $25.99
ISBN 9781250041975

Recently elected as Dorset, Connecticut’s first female selectwoman, Glynis Fairchild-Forniaux implements her plan to re-grade and widen Dorset Street in the town’s Historical District over the objection of many of the local Old Guard led by former long-time selectman Bob Paffin. When the work begins, the crew uncovers a corpse in a shredded U.S Navy uniform.

Connecticut State Trooper Resident Des Mitry leads the investigation into the death of Paffin’s older brother Lance, who vanished over forty seven years ago without a trace because he obviously was interred under the street in front of the Congregational Church since 1967. With help from her lover NYC movie critic Mitch Berger, Mitry questions many of the town’s leading older citizens; but Paffin, Gazette newspaper publisher Buzzy Shaver, and U.S. Congressman Luke Cahoon offer nothing; while the many females that Vietnam War hero Lance the womanizer victimized also remain silent. The case remains frozen, but Mitry refuses to resign herself that the code of silence will leave this unsolved.

The latest Berger and Mitry regional police procedural (see The Snow White Christmas Cookie and The Blood Red Indian Summer) is a wonderful twisting New Englander whodunit as the Dorset Brahmin close ranks refusing to cooperate. Mitry is at her obstinate intimidating Amazonian best refusing to give up; while Berger provides wry commentary on movies and elitist townsfolk. The strong case resolution is fresh in part due to help from unexpected individuals, but mostly because the dynamic opposites attract couple is at the top of their game.

Harriet Klausner

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