Lawrence Sanders concludes his bestselling Commandment series with a sizzling tale of hot-blooded lust and stone-cold murder
Nothing gets by Dora Conti. Her latest case brings the tough-as-nails claims adjuster to the mean streets of New York, where Lewis Starrett, a wealthy society jeweler, has been fatally stabbed. Though the killer was apparently an amateur, there was a lot of power behind the knife’s thrust. The victim lived in an eighteen-room duplex on Fifth Avenue with his wife, daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. Conti must look into the lives of this privileged clan before deciding whether to pay out Lewis Starrett’s life insurance policy. As it turns out, their family affairs are a seething viper’s nest of lust, adultery, and escalating violence. The body count rises—along with Conti’s growing desire for burnt-out cop John Wenden.
Murder, greed, lust, corruption and an extraordinary preoccupation with food and drink--trademarks of Sanders's Deadly Sin and Commandment bestsellers--are here, yet this tale lacks the passion needed to engage readers fully. When New York City jewelry magnate Lewis Starrett is stabbed to death on the street, insurance investigator Dora Conti, whose firm carries the $3-million policy on his life, is assigned to look into the murder. The array of suspects includes the victim's son, who may be using the family's corporate empire for his own nefarious purposes; his drug-crazed daughter; the amoral brother-and-sister team romantically involved with each of them; and a religious charlatan who holds the widow in thrall. As murder follows upon murder, relationships among this sorry lot deterioriate at a ludicrous rate. Meanwhile, amidst her probings, Dora, a refreshingly plump and ordinary heroine, is tempted to endanger her happy marriage in a fling with the NYPD detective on the case, a subplot lacking both tension and interest. This disappointing outing from the author of The Fourth Deadly Sin winds down to a flat and undramatic, albeit fitting, conclusion. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; Mystery Guild alternate.