THE DEATH OF THE DETECTIVE
by MARK SMITH 596 pages. Knopf. $8.95.
At the outset, a wealthy and evil man named Farquarson lies dying in his mansion in Lake Forest, Ill. Years ago he railroaded his redundant wife into a mental institution, where she had a son by another inmate. Said inmate, a violent man named Helenowski, vowed deadly vengeance on the world. As the novel begins he has escaped and is busy killing people.
Farquarson telephones a middle-aged detective named Arnold Magnuson. A widower, full of regretful guilt and woe, Magnuson wants to atone for...