In this third installment of Case's (A Luring Murder, 2012, etc.) series, tough but likable detective Catherine O'Brien must solve the grisly double murder of an affluent suburban couple in a quiet neighborhood. As Catherine and her partner, Louise Montgomery, try to solve the shocking murder, a number of suspects arise, including the victims' son and the wife's mentally unstable cousin. To further complicate matters, Catherine and Louise are saddled with an extremely irritating reporter named Jane Katts, assigned by a local newspaperto follow them during their investigation and determined to get to the bottom of the story. There are no real surprises here, because the loose ends are tied up by novel's end, yet the book is elevated above the standard police procedural by Case's sharp, engaging characters, particularly an abundance of strong, interesting women. Catherine sees herself as being far from a stunning beauty: "my pale skin, my flat butt, my small boobs, [and] my frizzy hair." She has quite a few flaws, including a tendency to talk too much (especially to her superiors) and a dependence on coffee to get through the day. Still, she's smart, funny and unabashedly in love with her husband, Gavin, who supports her work, cooks dinner for her and proclaims, "I like my women with a little meat on them." Catherine and Gavin's relationship is sexy in a refreshingly realistic way; her connection with her partner, Louise—another complex female character who's good at her job but bad at other things (like driving)—is similarly appealing. These endearing gems of characterization help make the somewhat predictable plot fly by. The mystery is just complicated enough to keep readers on their toes, but not so complicated that the resolution is incomprehensible. Spending time in Catherine's world is plenty of fun, and hopefully Case has more novels in store. An entertaining addition to an enjoyable series.
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