Nikki Amdur
August 23, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In When Wallflowers Die, the third Phoebe Siegel mystery, the winter weather — ”a dominatrix that whips us with polar winds and bitter cold” — makes a memorable adversary for the tough-talking PI (”Investigations with an attitude”). Siegel gets caught up in a case her detective dad tried to crack a quarter century ago: the brutal murder of a woman married to ”a good-looking silver-haired guy” who had an eye on the governor’s mansion. Soon the forgotten wallflower isn’t the only one pushing up daisies, and the spunky detective is in pretty deep herself. Quirky characters such as the twin hookers Gin and Tonic, Dougie the Snitch, and Waxy Slater, a dangerous ”hands-on kinda guy,” turn this into a rip-roaring read. B+

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