STIFF PENALTY by Annelise Ryan


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Pregnancy hormones and anonymous calls do little to mellow Assistant Medical Examiner Mattie Winston (Scared Stiff, 2010, etc.).

Like Alexander Portnoy, Mattie reveals her story in the course of a visit to her therapist. But unlike Roth’s hero, she has few neuroses; Mattie’s as comfortable in her skin as she is probing beneath her patients’. She was first sent to psychiatrist Maggie Baldwin after she broke her job’s nonfraternization rule with Detective Steve Hurley, and now she’s back because her persistent flouting of that rule has left a bun in her ample oven. Over the course of their marathon session, Mattie reveals to Dr. Maggie her ambivalence about marrying Hurley (she’s afraid he’s proposed out of duty rather than love), her love-hate relationship with the maternity clothes supplied by fashionista Priscilla McDaniel, owner of The Mother Hood boutique, and her concerns that a stalker, who’s been seen peeping in her window and who may be responsible for a series of hang-up calls, may actually be her father. She also mentions that she’s been cleared of official blame for killing Roscoe Schneider, a small-time thug she ran over in her driveway, and that she’s solved the murder of Derrick Ames, a high school teacher stabbed in his home with a barbecue fork. In the end, her pregnancy comes to its inevitable conclusion. Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?

Ryan’s climbed on board the latest version of the will-she/won’t-she mystery romance: the case of the knocked-up gumshoe. At 400-plus pages, Mattie’s latest might take you through an entire labor and delivery.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-61773-408-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2015


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