Friday, August 12, 2011

A Nice Clean Murder by Kate Sweeney

Publisher:                 Intaglio Publications

"Thanks for picking me up. I-I've thought about you," I said, suddenly feeling warm. Geez, has she got the heat on? 

Maggie watched the road. "Really? I thought about you, too. I was on call in the emergency room. A man came in who stepped on a rake and the handle came up and broke his nose. I said to myself, now this is something Kate would do." 

Thus begins the second installment in the Kate Ryan Mysteries series. Kate never met an accident she couldn't have and can turn the act of walking across a room into an ordeal worse than running an obstacle course. As she bumbles along, there is Dr. Maggie Winfield, who wants to love Kate, but who spends most of her time patching up Kate's injuries and trying to learn why this woman is so withdrawn.

A Nice Clean Murder opens with Kate's brother-in-law Mac discovering that an uncle he barely knew has left him property in Ireland and a mystery along with it. Someone doesn't want Mac to claim his inheritance and makes that clear when the family is stalked by a person who doesn't mind hurting people. Kate is determined to find out why and Mac refuses to be intimidated, so they and Kate's sister Teri head for Ireland, closely followed by Maggie and her brother Charlie. The friends are about to encounter murder, ancient stories of pirates and superstitions buried deep in Irish folklore.

Kate will also encounter a very pretty lawyer who is definitely interested in Kate. The problem is that Kate instinctively knows that Maggie should be where her heart is invested, but she just can't. She is still wrestling with demons from her past that almost killed her and block her from getting involved with anyone. As Kate struggles to include Maggie in her life and solve the mystery swirling around Mac, she continues to be a one woman calamity, bouncing from one accident to another. The quest becomes to solve the mystery before someone she loves is hurt, or worse, and not drive Maggie away in the process. And beautiful Bridget doesn't make any of it easy.

The thing that makes Kate Ryan so appealing as a character is that she's so human. She falls down, she gets mugged and she has panic attacks when she thinks about her past. Mysteries seem to puzzle her as much as anyone when they first occur and she has to think her way through what is going on. The best part however is that sometimes she gets a clue from sheer dumb luck.

Kate is surrounded by a fun cast of characters. Teri, the younger sister, often acts more like she's Kate's mother, and Teri's husband Mac obviously loves and respects Kate, and enjoys the fact that she gives him an excuse to put some adventure in his life. Maggie loves Kate, but finds her the most aggravating person she's ever run into and Maggie has a temper to match Kate's any day. The result of these personalities is that you care about them and that draws you into the story. There are times you'll want to hug Kate and tell her everything will be alright, then you'll want to slap her on the head and ask her what's wrong with her.

An added treat in this book is Ireland itself. Sweeney's descriptions will have you hearing the lilt in the people's voices, and the beauty of the Irish landscape comes pouring off of the pages. If it doesn't have you ready to make reservations for a visit, you haven't been paying attention.

A Nice Clean Murder is a nice clean book. The mystery will keep you guessing until the end and something happens that you won't see coming. The characters are appealing and it has a great setting. It's definitely one worth reading.

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