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by John Baker
Orion, June 2002
314 pages
5.99 GBP
ISBN: 0752847988

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SHOOTING IN THE DARK starts as do the best traditional noir novels, with Sam Turner, the private eye, sitting at his desk, drinking a glass of water instead of whisky, and waiting for his next client. His secretary, Celia, the retired schoolteacher, opens the door and ushers in a beautiful woman, a beautiful blind woman, Angeles Falco, who thinks someone is stalking her and her sister, Isabel Reeves, who, inexplicably, does not show up for the appointment.

Geordie is on paternity leave. His wife Janet has recently had a baby girl, Echo, and the former street kid is gobsmacked at his new role. He seems to be constantly in a daze because he has been trying to help Janet with the baby and is getting very little sleep, so Turner must look elsewhere for part-time help.

Sam brings in JD Pears, a novelist, musician, part-time operative for the agency to help keep a 24 hour watch on Angeles, especially after a couple, walking on the moor, looking for a likely place to snog, find Isabel's body.

The police still don't believe that someone has been stalking the sisters, so they go after Isabel's lover as a possible murderer. The level of horror keeps rising as Baker takes us into the mind and life of the stalker and this book moves from the bleakness of noir to the terror caused by a psychotic killer.

Baker is a master at creating characters we care about. Sam is on the wagon. Geordie and Janet have found each other, and even the sudden appearance of Geordie's good-for-nothing brother, only serve to make them stronger. Celia looks years younger, now that she has something other than a lonely retirement to look forward to, and Marie, widow of Sam's former partner, has also rediscovered a reason for living. This is a very strong entry in the series, but I feel cheated because I haven't read all of the books. I think these books are best read in order, since Baker's character development is an integral part of the plot.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, November 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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