From Publishers Weekly
Last time out (Witness to Evil, 1977), Oakland, Calif., PI Jeri Howard dealt with Nazis old and neo. This time, the villains are corporate fat cats. Paralegal Rob Lawter has paid Jeri a retainer for unspecified services, then has died from a fall shortly before blowing the whistle at Bates Inc., the food processing company where he worked. Certain Rob was killed but unsure what he wanted her to do and determined to earn the retainer, Jeri takes a temporary job in Bates's legal department. She also befriends Rob's grieving niece, Robin, who hates her mother's lover, Leon Gomes, a Bates factory manager and confidant of executives at Rittlesteon & Weper, which recently bought out the Bates family. Although Jeri snoops enough to uncover plans to move Bates to El Paso and fire most employees, it's only near the end of the novel that she learns why Rob was murdered. Jeri is an engaging narrator, and Dawson evokes the feel of life in the Bay Area. But, with the narrating Jeri reporting seemingly every folder transferred and every snatch of overheard conversation, Dawson's narrative, with a bit too much of muck-racking and a smidgen too little of accomplished storytelling, never attains a pace required to sustain proper suspense.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Jumped, fell, pushed? Whichever the case, Rob Lawter has certainly gone out the window of his fifth-floor apartment. And he is certainly dead. So once again there's Oakland p.i. Jeri Howard, back for a seventh outing, in something of a quandary: this time, her client, now deceased, had retained her to perform a service he had not got around to specifying. Well, its not much of a quandarybecause, of course, Rob was pushed, and Jeri won't rest until justice is served. But there's not much to go on. At their first and only meeting, Rob, a poor but honest paralegal at Bates, Inc., the food-processing giant (cereal, beans, dairy products), had been nervous, obviously worried. He'd told her little, promised to say more in a day or so when he was surer of himself. He had, however, produced for her scrutiny this highly unfriendly note: ``Back off if you know what's good for you.'' So with her client suddenly (and suspiciously) posthumous, Jeri decides that something is as rotten at Bates as it ever was in Denmark. Rob, she's convinced, was a wannabe whistle-blower trying to muster the courage. But to reveal what? Undercover, she goes, in Bates's legal department, sniffing away in file cabinets and computer banks. Before long, she discovers two varieties of contaminationone emanating from a bacteria-laden shipment of the companys ice cream, the other from the smelly conspiracy to cover that up. Standard for this series (A Credible Threat, 1997, etc.). Which is to say the puzzle is decently presented and legitimately solved, but Jeri's as unrelievedly bland as Bates vanilla. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.