Dashiell Hammett started it when he featured Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man. Television gave us Hart to Hart and Remington Steele, with their mixed-sex detective teams. Now Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, and his wife, Linda Kenney, an attorney specializing in civil rights and criminal law, have created their own duo: Dr. Jake Rosen, a New York City medical examiner, and Philomena Manny Manfreda, a crusading attorney for the downtrodden.

Working on the theory that opposites attract, Baden and Kenney throw together Manny, an organized, fashion-conscious neatnik, and Jake, a disorganized slob who wouldn't know an Armani from a pepperoni, in Remains Silent. When several corpses are discovered during the excavation of a shopping mall in upstate New York, Jake's mentor, retired medical examiner Pete Harrigan, asks his former protŽgŽ to help him identify the bodies. Jake has recently humiliated Manny in court, but love starts to bloom when he tells the daughter of one of the deceased to hire Manny to find out if someone who worked at the creepy, shuttered state mental hospital that was home to the dead man several decades before should be held liable for the death. Manny and Jake may start off at odds with each other, but you know they'll end up together when they bond during a gruesome and graphic autopsy.

The questions concerning the old corpses take on a different complexion when people involved in discovering the cause of death are murdered and Manny and Jake are attacked. Influential locals will loose a lot of money if plans to build the mall are delayed. And what did happen in the mental hospital all those years ago? Baden and Kenney dish up hairbreadth escapes, plenty of suspects, fascinating forensic details and a good old-fashioned romance. On the downside, Manny and Jake never seem quite real and the plot gets a bit farfetched toward the end, but if you're headed to the beach or have a long plane ride ahead of you, Remains Silent will make a good companion. Phillip Margolin, the author of 11 bestsellers, including Lost Lake, his latest, lives in Portland, Oregon, where he was a criminal defense attorney for 25 years.

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