July 23, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

After All These Years

Current Status
In Season
Susan Isaacs
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller
We gave it a B-

Was it Rosie in the kitchen with a butcher knife? But for the fact that it’s set on Long Island, the underlying theme of After All These Years (HarperCollins, $23), Susan Isaacs’ latest sexual-revenge comedy, could be neatly summed up in a few verses from a country song by Reba McEntire: ”Why is the last one to know/the first one to cry/and the last to let go?” Still lovelorn, still hoping for a tearful reconciliation with her 48-year-old husband, Richie — a former high school teacher from Queens who has turned big-shot Manhattan executive and acquired a $239,000 sports car and an avaricious young mistress to share it — Rosie Meyers stumbles into her kitchen for a snack one night only to find the cad lying with a knife in his chest by the refrigerator. For all her love of detective novels, it takes our spunky, wisecracking heroine a couple of chapters to recognize the obvious. To the Nassau County police, it was ”no longer a who done it. It was a she done it.” Nobody else, see, stands to come out several million bucks ahead by Richie’s untimely demise. And nobody else’s fingerprints — thanks to a frantic effort to save his life — turn up on the murder weapon. Anybody familiar with previous Isaacs novels like Compromising Positions will recognize that hiring a private investigator is out of the question. As Rosie, a high school English teacher, sees it, she’s got two options: Take it on the lam and solve the mystery herself, or spend a ”lifetime in the company of women who do not care about Jane Austen.”

Unfortunately, Isaacs’ jaunty tone soon betrays her. Even as a comic device, detective Rosie begins to grow less credible and more predictable long before she takes to running around in disguise and packing a pistol. Furthermore, even if Isaacs didn’t lay on the clues with a mortar trowel, her relentless ethnic stereotyping makes the identity of the real killer obvious long before the cinematic climax. Amusing, but ultimately disappointing. B-

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