Saturday, August 20, 2011

Who'll Be Dead For Christmas by Kate Sweeney

Publisher:                     Intaglio Publications

Kate Ryan strikes, um, bumbles, um, stumbles, oh heck, Kate is having her usual run of luck. She thought she made a really good deal when she bought a renovated brownstone in her old neighborhood in Chicago, then she learns it was such a steal because the previous tenant was murdered there. Poor Kate. All she wanted was a nice place to bring her lover Dr. Maggie Winfield, but strange things begin to happen almost immediately and she’s sucked into a mystery against her will. 

Kate discovers a journal hidden in the floor and a CD in a secret compartment in the fireplace that seem to indicate the former tenant was involved in some kind of medical experimentation that was connected to the government; then someone breaks in and tries to bash out her brains with one of her own dining room chairs. She  hears footsteps in her apartment; someone drugs her and there are two attempts on Maggie’s life. All of this concerns Kate, but none of it scares her as much as trying to find the courage to say “I love you” to Maggie. If she doesn’t find out quickly what is going on and why people seem to be spying on not only her but Maggie and her new friends who are the other tenants in the building, she may never get a chance to say those words.

Kate Sweeney has provided another opportunity to spend some time with her accident-prone detective Kate Ryan. This time she is surrounded by a new cast of characters. There is the aging hippie couple, Summer and Todd Lockwood, who own a natural food store and see conspiracies behind everything. Ironically, this time they prove to be correct. Living across the hall are Jerry O’Neill, who owns a research company, and his partner Matt Johnson, a restaurant owner.  Matt insists on speaking to Kate as if he were in the Medieval Age and likes to compare Kate and Maggie to Tracy and Hepburn. They provide a nice complement to Kate’s confusion.

As usual, Kate tries to solve the mystery without anyone else getting hurt and they all end up in the soup. This plot is more complex than the previous Kate Ryan mysteries and it’s not clear at the end exactly who the “bad” guy is. In fact, there seem to be several different ones. The resolution of the case gets bogged down in the cross purposes of certain government agencies and private interests and following who did what gets a little muddled, but, as usual, it’s fun getting there with Kate.  

Who’ll Be Dead For Christmas should provide some reading fun for a few hours.

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