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 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.


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.