Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Brimstone-breathing, homophobic televangelist Ron Merkin has shed his gospel armor for a more interesting outfit: a pink and yellow muumuu. And he has also departed this vale of tears, strangled with a raspberry taffeta scarf.

In Jon Loomis' debut novel, High Season (304 pages, St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95), Provincetown, Mass., police detective Frank Coffin must investigate the pastor's passing amid the quirkiness of Provincetown, where the large gay community lives in mostly peaceful co-existence with old-time fishing families -- and where the full-timers disdain the hordes of summer tourists (but not their money).

Coffin suffered a mental meltdown as a homicide detective in Baltimore and had hoped, when he returned to his Cape Cod hometown, that he'd never have to work a murder case again. But events intervene, and he and his partner, officer Lola Winters, track a killer who's not content to stop with one victim.

At once hilarious and unsettling, "High Season" combines a complex story with a cast of colorful eccentrics to create an exciting first installment in a projected series. It's a model mystery, told in winning fashion.

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