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by Margaret Maron
Grand Central, June 2017
320 pages
ISBN: 1455567353

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Lt. Sigrid Harald is back to work, still working through her grief after the death of her lover, famous artist Oscar Nauman. That recovery is hampered by all the minutia of his rather large estate, which he left totally to her. The death of two homeless men would seem, at first glance, to be a no-brainer: one of the men clearly had a drug problem and is well-known to the neighborhood. The other man, not so much; it takes a few days to even identify him.

As Sigrid investigates, the case complicates itself. The widow of a mafia don is related to one of the dead men. The other man has an interesting connection to an aging opera star who is in the process of writing her tell-all memoirs. The cousin of the drug addict, related to the widow of the don, was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run, for which the drug addict blamed himself. Layers upon layers of possible connections, none of which is obvious at first glance.

Sigrid is also working with people involved in Nauman's life, setting up a retrospective of his work. Connected to that, tangentially, is the Breul House, a museum teetering on the brink of going under. Readers of previous Sigrid Harald works will know the back story and the way Sigrid's cohorts are involved with this house. In the middle of all of this, a man appears in New York claiming to be Oscar's (now adult) child by a woman he lived with in Paris years ago. Lila Nagy now lives in California, and is seriously crazy when she doesn't take her medications. Sigrid is not happy about this development and she is capable of acknowledging that and also realizing that she will, in the end, do whatever the "right" thing is by this man.

Maron is a gifted writer who has been practicing her craft for a very long time. Personally, I am absolutely delighted to have another Sigrid Harald to read. She is a complex character who has grown and developed over the many years since Maron introduced her to readers. While most readers know Maron for her Deborah Knott series, I believe Sigrid Harald can hold her own against Judge Knott. The story is complex and nuanced, believable and intricate. The various neighborhoods of New York are on display, as well as the history behind the people in those neighborhoods. This is part of the Harald series that speaks to me, as it brings back fond memories of my youth. I came at TAKE OUT with high expectations, and I was not disappointed. Truly, I enjoyed this book immensely, in many ways. Thank you, Margaret Maron.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs. My Sherlockian (BSI) nom-de-plume is VR; my license plate is BSI VR

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, July 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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