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THE PANDORA KEY
by Lynne Heitman
Pocket Books, February 2006
384 pages
$6.99
ISBN: 0743456165


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Alex Shanahan is a private investigator working with her mentor Harvey Baltimore, a man with a degenerative disease. When his ex-wife Rachael shows up, her presence seems to reinvigorate Harvey but Alex isn't sure it's a good thing.

Rachael tells them a sob story about her abusive new husband, the man she left the ill Harvey for, and asks for their help. Harvey agrees right away, but Alex knows that Rachael's history shows her to be a lying, self-centered woman. She's not happy about giving aid to Rachael, but Harvey insists. So Alex goes off to Rachael's home to investigate.

When her cry for help turns out to be a wild goose chase and Alex returns to find Harvey kidnapped, she's livid with anger. She calls on some strong-arm friends to help her rescue Harvey. But when that action gets her into deeper hot water than she ever imagines with, of all things, the Russian Mafia, Alex goes into overdrive to get to the bottom of the problem.

Piecing together information about the main players, including a corporate thief thought killed in a terrorist incident of over four years ago, the ruthless head of a private mercenary company, the even more ruthless and violent head of a Russian Mafia crime syndicate who wants his stolen money and the person responsible for the murder of his brother given to him, two frightened journalists who don't want to talk to her and finally a connection to all of them through Rachael, Alex has to somehow juggle all of the information to not only get to the truth, but also to get herself, Harvey and Rachael all out of the situation alive.

This is the fourth in the Alex Shanahan series by writer Lynne Heitman and the first I've read. This books stands well on its own, but the fine quality of the writing and the masterful way the writer creates characters, crafts an intricate, complicated mystery and brings it to a solid and satisfying conclusion. I will definitely be reading the other in this series now!

Alex Shanahan is a hardboiled investigator, but still very much a female lead. She has great courage and skills but is competent enough to use people with higher expertise in situations when she needs them. A true modern woman, there's no histrionics, no foot stomping and none of the annoying bogus macho exclamations used by lesser authors when creating female action characters. Alex is a no-nonsense strong person who uses her brain and skills and wide variety of contacts to get the job done.

I enjoyed this book immensely. The pace was fast; the writer obviously did her homework when dealing with world history and with modern technologies and the end product is a powerful and intricately-plotted, fast, frightening rollercoaster ride from start to finish. One scene where a dead body is dug up was done with such precise description I still can swear I was there in person!

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, January 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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