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by Rick Blechta
Rendezvous Crime/Napoleon & Company, March 2008
296 pages
$15.95 CAD
ISBN: 1894917685

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Toronto's jazz scene has provided Andy Curran with a good living over the years, and he is quite comfortable playing with the Felton Trio at the Green Salamander Jazz Nightclub. That is, until a mysterious young woman shows up to sing at the club's open mike night. Olivia Saint has a mesmerizing voice, but is determined to avoid talking about her past. Andy befriends the winsome singer and she becomes the trio's new vocalist. So why does she leave reluctantly with two strangers one night between sets?

A misguided sense of responsibility and guilt sends Andy to PI Shannon O'Brien, who in addition to her client's cases, has troubles of her own. Her new operative, Jackie Goode, is a brash young woman with an instinct for the job but little experience. Shannon gives the missing singer case to Jackie to spread out the work load and give Jackie a chance to prove herself.

The case takes on a whole new dimension when Jackie unearths Olivia's past.

Apparently, she is Olivia St James of the New York St Jameses and was institutionalized by her family after the suspicious death of her brother several years before. But how did Olivia escape the upscale care facility in California and was she forcibly returned to it?

Rick Blechta introduces some interesting characters and gives them a complex puzzle to unravel. Particularly appealing is Jackie the rookie. As she follows on the trail of the missing Olivia, Blechta gives Jackie a chance to shine and use her own initiative as well as giving the reader some tantalizing tidbits of information about the PI business. The characters of Andy Curran and Shannon O'Brien were equally well drawn, but sometimes the book struggled with who was supposed to be the primary investigator.

Unfortunately, the story ends badly for almost everyone involved and the book has an unsettling noir ending. I was left with the feeling that this jazz mystery ended on a flat note.

Reviewed by Merrill Young, May 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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