By Camille Minichino
As clever and precise as an Agatha Christie novel, with a believable, quirky cast of characters, The Lithium Murder is the third in a provocative series of mysteries based on the 109 elements of the periodic table. A new mystery in the unique series based on the periodic table plunges plucky physicist Gloria Lamerino into an explosive mixture of hard science and sudden death. Synthesize Angela Lansbury's Jessica fletcher with pure essence of Sue Grafton. Add a pinch of Patricia Cornwell as catalyst. Stir vigorously, then stand back -- because once this formula starts to fizz, it's definitely volatile. Someone could get killed. In fact, someone does -- an elderly janitor at a government-funded lab in Revere, Massachusetts-and when the homicide cops investigate, their first reaction is that they need the expert assistance of someone who knows her way around the table of elements. That would be Gloria Lamerino, retired physicist-turned-scientific consultant to Revere's police department . . . and the feisty, adventurous, intelligent heroine of Minichino's provocative and original series of mysteries. It isn't long before Gloria develops a hypothesis: that the lab's hush-hush lithium experiments aren't the only secrets she'll uncover before her research project is done, if she lives so long. After all, one man's dead already -- and lithium can be very deadly. Featuring an engaging, not-so-young heroine with both brains and hips, her lovable boyfriend, and a quirky, believable cast of Italian-American characters, this thoroughly gripping thriller is clever and precisely plotted enough to rival Agatha Christie -- if she'd only had a Ph.D. in physics and a Yankee twang.
From: Publisher's Weekly /
March 8, 1999
THE LITHIUM MURDER Camille Minichino.
Morrow, $25 (240p) ISBN 0-688-16784-5
Gloria Lamerino, 56, amply proportioned and turning gray, makes for an unlikely sleuth. Yet as her quietly engrossing third outing (after The Hydrogen Murder and The Helium Murder) quickly shows, the former Berkeley physics professor brings sharply defined skills to her new job as science consultant to the Revere (Mass.) Police Department. As depicted in a prologue related in the third person (the rest of the novel is narrated by Lamerino), Michael Deramo, a janitor in the physics department at the local university; has been stran-gled after overhearing a plot to conceal environmental hazards associated with the development of a new lithium battery. The two leading researchers on the project admit to police that they were about to bribe Deramo to keep quiet. But much more is going on. Deramo's snobby and upwardly mobile son, who regards the family patriarch as a social disaster, is a patent attorney who stands to make a fortune from the new product. As Lamerino, in her well-mannered way, interviews a daughter-in-law, a step-grandson and an evil-minded lawyer, she utilizes not only her considerable scientific background but also her shrewd and comprehensive knowledge of Italian history, mores and family dynamics. Narrative suspense is buoyed further by Lamerino's low-key romance with a homicide detective. This is a tightly knit story with a heroine so refreshingly different that readers will be pleased to note that Minichino, herself a retired physicist, has 104 elements from the periodic table left to go. Agent, Elaine Koster. (May)