Can you ID this book from almost no info?

This was a book I read somewhere between 1995-1999, but no idea when it was published. Here’s what I remember:

It was an action/adventure-type book. I know it was one of a series, but no idea where it falls in with the others.

What I remember is someone getting killed (possibly beheaded, but at least had their throat cut) in a peculiar manor. I seem to recall that the room where this murder took place was filled with steam or smoke. Someone had rigged a tape measure (a retractable one) - possibly sharpening the sides of the retractable tape - that released at a certain point. When it retracted, it slashed the major blood vessels in the neck, killing the victim.

I think there may have been a subplot involving a serial killer, and it had a magical/mystical theme.

I’m thinking it took place in California.

That’s pretty much all I remember. The tape measure death stuck with me, but I can’t find a context for it.

The Tape Measure Murder: A Miss Marple Mystery?

Heh. The method used in that story is strangulation, not, uh, slicing. But I do get a kick out of a homey little Miss Marple story being described as an action-adventure. :slight_smile:

Heh. That sounds like something Tim Dorsey’s character Serge Storms would set up, but he’s based in Florida, not California, and doesn’t really have a magical theme.

A Repairman Jack http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repairman_Jack novel?

I was just going to suggest that…

Steam or smoke aside, how was the house in which the murder took place peculiar?

That’s certainly possible. I don’t remember enough of the overall novel to be able to say for sure.

Little bit more info:

The protagonist is in a house where people are dying in strange ways (hence the aforementioned tape measure). If I remember correctly, he’s trying to both keep other people in the house from dying while simultaneously trying to figure out who is killing them, and why.

:smack:

That should read “particular manner.”

Unfortunately, I haven’t read the “Repairman Jack” books, but since I know they involve supernatural events and thriller type plotting, it seemed like a reasonable guess. If you’re sure of the year you read the book, I think only one or two of the Jack books had been published at that point, so that would narrow it down.