Post No Bonds

Pledging her condominium as collateral for Heywood’s bond is his girlfriend Darcy, who also teams with Grace to bring in Heywood. They make an effective, unorthodox pair of amateur sleuths. Grace is age fifty-two and finds her relaxation in the weekly gossip at the mahjongg table. Darcy, a young market analyst and recovered cocaine addict, applies her wits to making quick profits on the sly from illegal insider information. Their search for Heywood covers three states and incorporates a number of vivid settings--firing ranges, cocaine parties, music-video studios, and the corporate offices of a public-relations firm.

The incongruity of finding a housewife such as Grace Stark in such places gives the book much of its humor. Armed with a pistol and a bulletproof raincoat, Grace proves to be surprisingly resourceful and tough enough to hold her own. Added fun comes from the interplay between the incompatible Grace and Darcy.

Biederman’s style hones this comedic edge even more. Hardly a page in the first half of the book goes by without a sharp irony, an apt turn of phrase, or a tart and telling description. In one scene, for example, Darcy’s male dinner companion leers at her “in a way that sent her fingers to the top button of her blouse.” The demands of the mystery plot take over in the second half, and these pleasing touches of character, wit, and style recede somewhat. On the whole, however, Biederman has written a smart and funny novel.