Book Review: The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone

The Super Ladies
Susan Petrone
The story Plant, August 2018
ISBN 978-1-61188-258-2
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

For three middle-aged women in the suburbs of Cleveland, the issues seemed compelling but relatively conventional: sending a child off to college, dealing with a marriage gone stale, feeling “invisible.” But changes were coming . . . and not the predictable ones. Because Margie, Katherine, and Abra are feeling a new kind of power inside of them – literally. Of all the things they thought they might have to contend with as they got older, not one of them considered they’d be exploding a few gender roles by becoming superheroes.

Life for suburban moms Margie, Katherine and Abra is just what you might expect as they hit their late 40’s. Children will be going off to college soon, marital bliss is waning, and bodies are slowing down. One day to the next has become routine over the years and menopause is on the horizon. Life, in other words, has lost the excitement of their earlier years.

Then, in a strange turn of events, the three ladies suddenly find they have acquired certain strengths, superpowers if you will, after an accident involving tofu and a Bunsen burner. Thing is, these are no “normal” superpowers and the ladies have to figure out what to do with them and how to keep it all secret. Still, it’s fun to be able to do special things and helping other people is a blast.

The Super Ladies is a treat and so are the ladies themselves, now living their own special adventure. Humor and the usual superheroes air of fun and action make this a really appealing and unique story. Best of all is Ms. Petrone’s focus on middle-aged women instead of a thirty-something gorgeous woman and I hope we’ll see more of the super ladies.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2018.

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

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An Excerpt from The Super Ladies

On the way home, Katherine called shotgun, so Abra had to sit in the back of Margie’s minivan amid soccer shin guards, baseballs, stray sneakers, swim goggles, granola bar wrappers, a rubber-banded stack of Pokemon cards, and a book on playing Minecraft. “How was this shoe not on the seat when we left?” Abra asked.

“I really couldn’t tell you,” Margie replied over her shoulder. “Things back there just seem to migrate around on their own. Hold it up.” Abra did so, and Margie took a quick look at it in the rearview mirror as they pulled out of the parking lot and onto Superior Avenue. “I don’t even think that belongs to one of mine.”

“Now you know why I called shotgun. The backseat scares me,” Katherine said. “I sometimes get overwhelmed with one kid. How do you manage three?”

“I have no life. Duh,” Margie replied.

Margie cut south onto East 12th Street and then turned east onto Chester Avenue, which would take them through Midtown, up Cedar Hill, and back home. As they drove by Cleveland State University, she asked Katherine, “Do we still have to flip the bird to CSU for denying Hal tenure?”

“Nah, the statute of limitations has expired on that one, I think.”

“I like the new housing they’re building down here,” Abra said. “If I ever move downtown, would you two come and visit me?”

“Hell yes,” said Katherine.

“Sure,” Margie added. “Are you seriously thinking of moving or just toying with it?”

“Toying. If I can unload the house to the bank, I’ll have to rent somewhere. And I’d be closer to work.”

“If you move, who will I run with every morning?” “I don’t know. Get another dog?”

Chester was a wide, three-lanes-in-each-direction boulevard that took them past the university neighborhood and through the dead zone in between downtown, where most of the office buildings and entertainment areas were, and University Circle, where most of the city’s museums and cultural gems were ensconced. Economic development hadn’t hit this middle area, and much of it was taken up by vacant buildings, empty lots, and boarded-up houses.

Nine fifteen on a Thursday night in mid-May isn’t late and isn’t scary. Still, Margie got a bad feeling when she saw a young woman on the sidewalk walking fast, hands folded across her chest, not looking at the man who walked next to her. The girl was a stranger—not her age, not her race, not her neighborhood, but still, the girl was someone, some mother’s daughter.

Margie pulled over to the curb, leaving the engine running.

“Why are you stopping?” Katherine asked.

The few other cars on the wide road passed by without slowing. No cars were parked on the street; Margie’s van was the only stopped vehicle for blocks. Katherine and Abra followed Margie’s gaze to the scene unfolding on the sidewalk. The man was yelling at the woman now. They couldn’t make out exactly what he was yelling but heard the words “bitch” and “money” a few times. And they could see his flailing arms, his face leering up against hers. She stopped walking and said something to him, and he hit her. She lost her balance and fell against the chain-link fence that ran along the sidewalk. They were in front of an empty lot, where once there might have been a house but now was only a square of crabgrass and crumbling concrete and stray garbage. For a moment, there were no other cars on the road. There was no one else on the street, no inhabited buildings for a couple blocks either way. If not for them, the woman was on her own.

“Call nine-one-one,” Abra said as the man hit the woman again. The woman tried to get away, but he grabbed her shoulders and shoved her hard against the fence.

“There’s no time,” Katherine said. In a heartbeat, she was out of the car.

“Darn it, come on…” Abra muttered as she fumbled with the sliding side door and jumped out. “Keep the engine running,” she said as she followed Katherine.

“I’ll go with you…” Margie started to say. No, Abra was right. Someone had to stay with the van, keep the engine running, stay behind the wheel in case they needed to make a quick getaway. Glancing behind her, she backed up alongside the people on the sidewalk. It felt proactive. She could hear Katherine’s strong teacher voice saying loudly but calmly, “Leave her alone” and the woman yelling, “Call the police!” It suddenly occurred to Margie that she had a phone. She could call the police. Hands trembling and heart racing, Margie frantically fumbled through her bag for her phone.

She told the 911 dispatcher where she was and what was happening, the whole time watching Katherine and Abra and the couple on the sidewalk. Suddenly, there was a glint of something shiny in the streetlight as the man rushed toward Katherine. She heard a scream, and then she couldn’t see Abra anymore.

Katherine got out of the car purely through instinct. There was someone in trouble—helping is what you were supposed to do, right? It wasn’t until she was on the sidewalk, walking toward the man and woman, saying loudly, “Leave her alone” and watching the man turn to face her that she realized she had absolutely no idea what to do next. None. It was then that her heart started pounding and a hot wave of fear tingled through her arms and legs.

Up close, she could see the guy was taller and more muscular than he appeared from the safety of the van. He was maybe white, maybe light-skinned African American with a shaved head. An indecipherable neck tattoo peeked out from under his close-fitting, long-sleeved black T-shirt. She tried to burn a police description into her brain. The woman yelled, “Call the police!” at the same time the guy said, “This is none of your damn business, lady” to Katherine. The utter disdain in his voice cleared everything out of her brain except one thought: This was such a mistake. This was such a stupid mistake. There was no way this could end well. For a split second, she imagined Hal and Anna without her, wondered if they would think her foolish for getting herself killed in this way. She heard Abra say softly, “Just let her go, man.”

Katherine could just see Abra off to her right. Margie had backed up, and the open doors of the van were only a few yards away. She could faintly hear Margie’s voice, talking to 911 maybe? Knowing they were both nearby gave her a tiny bit more courage. Katherine took a tentative step toward the woman, who was kneeling by the fence. Her face was bloodied, the sleeve of her shirt ripped. “Miss?” she asked. She looked about nineteen or twenty. Not a woman. A girl. “Why don’t you come with us? We’ll give you a ride.”

“She don’t need a ride,” the man said.

The rest of the street seemed eerily quiet. Couldn’t someone else stop and help? Someone big? Someone male maybe? Katherine wasn’t that big, but she was big enough, strong enough. She could help. Slowly she extended her left arm. If the woman wanted to take her hand, she could. Katherine held the woman’s gaze, hoping she could silently convince her that leaving with some strangers was preferable to getting beaten up by her boyfriend. Katherine was so focused that she didn’t see the knife until it was against her arm, in her arm. The man cut so fast that she hardly saw the blade, only the flash of metal against her pale white skin. It occurred to her that she needed to get out in the sun. Why am I worried about how pale I am? I just got cut. She felt the sensation of the blade slicing through flesh, felt a momentary spark of pain, and then the pain was gone. It happened faster than a flu shot—a quick prick, then nothing.

The man only made one swipe, then stopped, triumphant, staring at her arm, expecting blood, expecting her to scream, to fall. There wasn’t any blood on her arm or the knife. No blood, just Katherine staring at him wide-eyed and unharmed.

Then the man was on the ground, hit from the side by…something, something Katherine couldn’t see. The knife dropped from his hands and landed near her foot. She kicked it away at the same time she heard Abra’s voice yell, “Run!” But where the hell was Abra? She must be in the van. Katherine couldn’t see her.

Katherine said, “Come on” to the woman, who was now up and moving toward her. The woman needed no more convincing and was in the car before Katherine, even before Abra. Where had Abra been? How could she be the last one to pile into the minivan, yelling, “Go! Go!” to Margie, who was slamming on the gas before the door was even closed.

Nobody said anything for a moment. The only sound in the car was that of four women catching their breath, being glad they had breath left in their bodies. Then all of them simultaneously erupted into words of relief and fear, asking each other “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

“Oh sweet mother, I can’t believe you all just did that,” Margie said. “I thought—Katherine, I honestly thought he was going to kill you.”

“So did I,” Abra said. “How the hell did he not cut you? How did he miss you?”

“He didn’t miss me,” Katherine replied quietly. Feeling fine seemed intrinsically wrong, but there it was. Unreal sense of calm? Yes. Pain and blood? No.

Before Margie or Abra could respond, the woman exclaimed, “Oh my God, thank you! Sean would’ve done me in this time, I know it. Y’all were like superheroes or something. You saved my life.”

The three women were quiet for a heartbeat. For the moment, the hyperbole of the phrase “You saved my life” was gone. It was arguably true. This was a new sensation. Frightening and humbling. Then Margie said, “Shoot, I dropped the phone.” With one hand on the wheel, she felt around in the great vortex of tissues, empty cups, and scraps of paper in the molded plastic section in between the two front seats.

“I got it,” Katherine said, coming up with the phone. The 911 dispatcher was still on the line, wondering what was going on. “Hello?” Katherine said. “We’re okay. We got away, the woman is safe. We’re going—where are we going?”

“Anywhere away from Sean,” the woman in the back said.

“There’s a police station right down the street at one hundred and fifth,” Abra said.

“Right, I know where that is,” Margie said.

A police car with the siren off but lights flashing came roaring down Chester Avenue in the opposite direction.

“Was that for us?” Margie asked.

“I think so,” Abra said.

Katherine hardly had time to explain what had happened to the dispatcher before they were at the station. There was a long hour-plus of giving witness statements to a jaded-looking police officer who told them several times how lucky they were to have gotten out of the situation with no harm done. “What you three ladies did was very brave and very stupid,” he said in closing.

“We know,” Abra replied.

They were told they might be called as witnesses if the woman, Janelle, decided to press charges against her boyfriend. Then they were free to go. The three of them walked out of the police station and to the waiting minivan. It was nearing midnight, and the spring evening had moved from cool to downright chilly. Even so, none of them moved to get into the van. Margie unlocked it and opened the driver’s door, then just stood looking at the ground, one hand on the door, the other on the side of the van, breathing slowly. Abra paced in a slow oval near the back of the van, while Katherine leaned against it and gazed up at the few faint stars that could be seen against the city lights. She suddenly wanted to be somewhere quiet, away from the city, away from people. Margie’s voice brought her back: “I’m sorry I didn’t do anything to help.”

What are you talking about?” Katherine said. “If it weren’t for you, we never would have gotten out of there.”

Abra walked around the van to Margie. “You were the only smart one. I’m sorry I got out of the car. That was stupid.” As Abra said this, she shivered, her lips trembled, and she started to shake. “That was so stupid.” “I got out first,” Katherine said. “I’m the stupid one.” Katherine almost never saw Margie cry. Even when her eldest child was going through hell, Katherine had been amazed and admiring of her friend’s resilience. But now Margie seemed overwhelmed by heaving sobs. “I’m just so glad the two of you are okay,” Margie stammered. Crying people generally made her nervous, but Katherine joined Margie and Abra on the other side of the van.

When your friends need you, they need you.

Excerpt from The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone.  Copyright © 2017 by Susan Petrone. Reproduced with permission from Susan Petrone. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Susan Petrone lives with one husband, one child, and two dogs in Cleveland, Ohio. Her superpower has yet to be uncovered.

Catch Up with Susan Petrone Online:

Website // Twitter
Facebook // Goodreads

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards

Natalie D. Richards Six Months Later Website Banner

Title: Six Months Later
Author: Natalie D. Richards
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

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Goodreads

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble       Kobo       Google Play       Amazon

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Six Months LaterSix Months Later
Natalie D. Richards
Sourcebooks Fire, October 2013
ISBN 978-1-4022-8551-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

She Has Everything She Ever Wanted. But Not Her Memory…

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can’t remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she’d been a mediocre student. Now, she’s on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he’s her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won’t speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows…

One of the most important parts independent presses play in the book industry is in giving a voice to many authors and subgenres that the larger publishers fail to take on. In today’s world of extensive self-publishing, I think those small but traditional presses are even more important because so many of the self-publishers jump into the favorite themes of the day and struggle to make their work unique. I’m a huge fan of the currently popular young adult dystopian and post-apocalyptic—and will continue reading as much of it as I can find—but have long felt that there isn’t enough good young adult mystery fiction. I have found some, to be sure, but it’s just not a widely-populated field.

And then along came a chance to review Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards and it *sounded* like the kind of young adult mystery I’ve been looking for. Imagine my delight when I found that this is precisely the right book. Ms. Richards clearly knows how to construct a mystery with puzzles and red herrings galore and she even manages to make the romantic angle a puzzle, too, as the reader is just as confused as Chloe when it comes to the two boys in her life, Blake and Adam.

Character development is a strong element here and, except for the gaps in Chloe’s memory that naturally create holes in what we know about her, I really felt a connection to nearly all the main players (those connections not necessarily being favorable). I even found the requisite romance—it’s difficult to find a young adult novel without at least a hint of hormonal-activity-that-simply-must-be-true-love—to be believable and Chloe’s mother’s demanding attitude is just like some other parents I’ve known. My favorite character, though, is Maggie, a girl who has been betrayed  and is having a hard time forgiving. Maggie is also an integral part of why I like Chloe so much—she values friendship and loyalty to the highest degree.

And then there’s the plot. There are a few little flaws here and there but this is a throat-grabbing thrill ride that just won’t ease up on the questions and the suspense. I can’t say much about it without spoilers so let me just tell you this—my daughter and I were heading home after a road trip and it was getting dark. I had mistakenly packed my ereader light in the suitcase I couldn’t get to so I kept cranking up the font size to get just one more sentence, one more word before total darkness descended. Then, when we got home, I fed the cat, did a fast check of my email and settled down for the night with my Nook. I didn’t stop reading till the very end because I quite simply couldn’t. This book is that good.

 When this author publishes her next YA mystery, I intend to snatch it up as soon as I possibly can. Ms. Richards, you need to write faster 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2013.

About the Author

Natalie D. RichardsDouble RWA Golden Heart Finalist Natalie D. Richards won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn’t dare do the dishes). After getting lost in maze of cubicles, Natalie found her way back to storytelling, following the genre of her heart, teen fiction. Natalie lives in Ohio with her amazing husband, their three children, and a giant dust-mop who swears he’s the family dog.

Author Links:

Website  //  Twitter  //  Goodreads  //  Facebook  //  Pinterest

Book Review: The Cleveland Creep by Les Roberts

The Cleveland Creep
Les Roberts
Gray & Company Publishers, May 2011
ISBN 9781598510713
Hardcover

Cleveland’s favorite private investigator is back for another riveting case. Milan Jacovich explores the northeast Ohio metropolis and winds up gaining a new friend while losing a few others. Still, he keeps his sense of humor and salute to the city and its personages. Fans of this series should expect and receive another great mystery with a little bit of humor, a little bit of action, and a very good detective story.

Milan Jacovich, Cleveland private investigator, is hired by Savannah Dacey to find her lost son, Earl. Earl is twenty-eight and as Jacovich discovers into taking ‘upskirt’ videos of teens at local malls. The missing person case turns creepier when Jacovich starts speaking with individuals involved with the mob and those dealing in pornography. Also, he’s been persuaded by another PI friend to hire an assistant, a man with temper and fists to back it up. When a dead body turns up dead, Jacovich is hounded not only by the local police (with whom he’s no friend) and an FBI agent (with whom he doesn’t want to be a friend). Missing person to murder, with trouble adding up for Jacovich in every chapter.

This is a very well written book. In depth memorable characters, a little bit of dry wit to soften the edges of deviant subject matter, and sharp descriptions of people and places and Cleveland becomes a not so subtle character, affecting attitudes and action. You’ll drop to look at the city’s bottom feeders and become nostalgic for better times. Roberts comes through with another winner in the Jacovich series.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, December 2011.

Ted Feit’s Book Review Roundup

Burn
Nevada Barr
Minotaur Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61456-0
Hardcover

It is likely that fans of the Anna Pigeon series might be put off by several aspects of this novel.  To begin with, it takes place in the urban setting of New Orleans rather than the accustomed [for this series] wide open spaces of a national park.  Then there is the topic: not only child abuse, but child sex and white slavery.  Also there is much, if not excessive, violence (which does not mean that there has not been some in previous entries).

With that said, we can turn our attention to Burn.  It is an intriguing work, albeit somewhat heavy-handed.  Anna is on leave to recover from some sort of mental breakdown, visiting a friend in the Big Easy.  Instead she becomes involved in what appears to be a voodoo curse as well as assisting a stranger in recovering her daughters, apparently kidnapped to be imprisoned in a sex emporium.

This reader found the novel slow to read and bogged down in a lot of unnecessary detail.  The plot – – child sex – – certainly is worthy of an important look, and the book does achieve that aim.  Somewhat confusing to this reader were the various descriptions of the “character” changes in the distraught mother, a professional actress, as she takes on each role as the situation arises.  On the whole, however, it is an interesting read, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

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The Track of Sand
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Penguin Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-14-311793-3
Trade Paperback

Strange dreams and perfect intuition and logic are the keys to solving a mystery in this Inspector Montalbano novel.  It seems that even when he is asleep he can proceed with an investigation with dispatch.

He awakens one day and looks out of his beach house to see a bludgeoned horse lying in the sand.  When his men arrive after his call to investigate, the horse has disappeared.  In short order, Rachele, an equestrian champion rider, and Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily, each report a missing horse.  Which one was the horse the inspector sighted?

In consultation with Fazio, a colleague, Montalbano learns of a clandestine horse racing scheme operated by the mafia.  Meanwhile, several burglary attempts take place at the inspector’s house, as well as an arson attempt.  What, if any, is the connection to the investigation?  With his customary unorthodox methodology, the inspector proceeds to unravel all the possibilities.

With humor and charm, the author writes a procedural of a different kind:  one which is full of good food, good-looking women and lots of fun.  Eat, drink and read hearty.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

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She Felt No Pain
Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-926607-07-8
Trade Paperback

RCMP Corporal Holly Martin, newly transferred to Vancouver Island, faces adjustment to her new command, along with encountering her own past along the way.  The reader is treated to all kinds of descriptions of the island in all its glory.

Almost incidentally, a mystery unfolds when an apparently homeless man is found dead of what looks like a drug overdose.  An autopsy shows a deadly combination of heroin and a potent synthetic opiate, a deadly combination. Holly soon discovers something the man had hidden near the site of his death, and she struggles to find its meaning. At the same time, Holly is encouraged by her elderly aunt to investigate the disappearance of her mother many years before.

Slowly, Holly begins to look into the background of the homeless man, uncovering his relationship with a sister and aunt still living on the island.  Consequently, Holly is able to begin piecing together the background story and investigate the possibility of murder.  The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of
nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

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Evidence of Murder
Lisa Black
Harper, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-154450-7
Mass Market Paperback

Persistence is a virtue, and Theresa MacLean, a forensic scientist in the M.E.’s office exhibits plenty of that in this novel in which she still has not recovered from the death of her fiancé.  A young woman has been found frozen to death on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland and there are almost no clues as to the cause of death.  She left behind a husband of three weeks and a young baby.

Theresa smells a rat and she can’t let go of the case.  She learns that the baby has received a $1.5 million inheritance from its grandparents and Theresa suspects that the baby’s life is in danger because of the money.  But unless she can prove murder, and she can’t seem to find any evidence, there might be another death in the near future.

This reader found the book slow reading, bogged down in minutiae and over-detailed descriptions, especially of forensics procedures.  But for this criticism, it is an interesting and well-drawn plot, with an exciting but rather implausible conclusion.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

Ted Feit's Book Review Roundup

Burn
Nevada Barr
Minotaur Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61456-0
Hardcover

It is likely that fans of the Anna Pigeon series might be put off by several aspects of this novel.  To begin with, it takes place in the urban setting of New Orleans rather than the accustomed [for this series] wide open spaces of a national park.  Then there is the topic: not only child abuse, but child sex and white slavery.  Also there is much, if not excessive, violence (which does not mean that there has not been some in previous entries).

With that said, we can turn our attention to Burn.  It is an intriguing work, albeit somewhat heavy-handed.  Anna is on leave to recover from some sort of mental breakdown, visiting a friend in the Big Easy.  Instead she becomes involved in what appears to be a voodoo curse as well as assisting a stranger in recovering her daughters, apparently kidnapped to be imprisoned in a sex emporium.

This reader found the novel slow to read and bogged down in a lot of unnecessary detail.  The plot – – child sex – – certainly is worthy of an important look, and the book does achieve that aim.  Somewhat confusing to this reader were the various descriptions of the “character” changes in the distraught mother, a professional actress, as she takes on each role as the situation arises.  On the whole, however, it is an interesting read, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

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The Track of Sand
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Penguin Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-14-311793-3
Trade Paperback

Strange dreams and perfect intuition and logic are the keys to solving a mystery in this Inspector Montalbano novel.  It seems that even when he is asleep he can proceed with an investigation with dispatch.

He awakens one day and looks out of his beach house to see a bludgeoned horse lying in the sand.  When his men arrive after his call to investigate, the horse has disappeared.  In short order, Rachele, an equestrian champion rider, and Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily, each report a missing horse.  Which one was the horse the inspector sighted?

In consultation with Fazio, a colleague, Montalbano learns of a clandestine horse racing scheme operated by the mafia.  Meanwhile, several burglary attempts take place at the inspector’s house, as well as an arson attempt.  What, if any, is the connection to the investigation?  With his customary unorthodox methodology, the inspector proceeds to unravel all the possibilities.

With humor and charm, the author writes a procedural of a different kind:  one which is full of good food, good-looking women and lots of fun.  Eat, drink and read hearty.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She Felt No Pain
Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-926607-07-8
Trade Paperback

RCMP Corporal Holly Martin, newly transferred to Vancouver Island, faces adjustment to her new command, along with encountering her own past along the way.  The reader is treated to all kinds of descriptions of the island in all its glory.

Almost incidentally, a mystery unfolds when an apparently homeless man is found dead of what looks like a drug overdose.  An autopsy shows a deadly combination of heroin and a potent synthetic opiate, a deadly combination. Holly soon discovers something the man had hidden near the site of his death, and she struggles to find its meaning. At the same time, Holly is encouraged by her elderly aunt to investigate the disappearance of her mother many years before.

Slowly, Holly begins to look into the background of the homeless man, uncovering his relationship with a sister and aunt still living on the island.  Consequently, Holly is able to begin piecing together the background story and investigate the possibility of murder.  The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of
nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evidence of Murder
Lisa Black
Harper, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-154450-7
Mass Market Paperback

Persistence is a virtue, and Theresa MacLean, a forensic scientist in the M.E.’s office exhibits plenty of that in this novel in which she still has not recovered from the death of her fiancé.  A young woman has been found frozen to death on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland and there are almost no clues as to the cause of death.  She left behind a husband of three weeks and a young baby.

Theresa smells a rat and she can’t let go of the case.  She learns that the baby has received a $1.5 million inheritance from its grandparents and Theresa suspects that the baby’s life is in danger because of the money.  But unless she can prove murder, and she can’t seem to find any evidence, there might be another death in the near future.

This reader found the book slow reading, bogged down in minutiae and over-detailed descriptions, especially of forensics procedures.  But for this criticism, it is an interesting and well-drawn plot, with an exciting but rather implausible conclusion.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.