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by Rachel Caine
Silhouette, August 2005
304 pages
ISBN: 0373513674

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I tracked this book down after hearing a friend of the author discuss it in pre-publication at Malice Domestic. Now that it has come out, I heartily encourage everyone else to track it down too.

It is published as a Silhouette Bombshell, so you know you're getting an action book centered on a female protagonist. In this case, Jazz (don't call her Jasmine!) Callender, recently of the Kansas City police force. She left to clear her ex-partner's name of a murder she's positive he didn't commit. Now broke, hounded by unsympathetic members of the force, and at the end of her line, Jazz has come to drown her sorrows in the sleaziest bar she can find.

That's when he appears, the man with the red envelope and the deal -- his law firm will put her in business if she'll promise to work with the partner of their choosing and if the two of them will put highest priority on any job that comes in that little red envelope.

Jazz isn't interested. Neither is Lucia Garza, special agent, who has received her own visitation. But if it's the only way to clear Ben, maybe she should take it. When someone tries to dissuade her with a hail of bullets her mind is made up -- she'll do anything if it irritates someone else!

The jobs that come in seem routine and boring, highly unworthy of their priority. But then Jazz discovers that they're not there to watch things at all. She's there to prevent things from happening with her presence. But how does her unknown boss know what's going to happen before it does -- and why doesn't he understand that Jazz will never settle for a passive role?

DEVIL'S BARGAIN is the first of the Red Letter Days series, and it's a nice, solid foundation. The tone mixes hardboiled and police procedure in equal amounts. Although there is a relationship (not between Jazz and Lucia), this is by no means a cozy or chick lit. This is private eye noir in a sports bra. Part Avengers ("Mrs. Peel, we're needed") and part X-Files (the truth is certainly out there), this will appeal to action fans, conspiracy buffs, and PI-philes. The second book, DEVIL'S DUE, is out in January, and I'm looking forward to it.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, September 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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