FIVE CARD STUD by Elizabeth Gunn


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Since Rutherford police lieutenant Jake Hines forgot to post the duty roster at the station, the call announcing a dead body with one shoe on, one shoe off, and no shirt in sight comes to him, forcing him to leave his poker game and head out into the subzero Minnesota landscape to check on the DOA. Except for hands, feet, and nose blackened from hypothermia, the body looks peaceful—until Pokey, the Ukrainian dermatologist- coroner, shifts it and most of its brain matter can be seen congealing in the snow. The blood-splatter pattern indicates there might have been someone else in trouble at the scene, but the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) is on overload, so Jake and his team, for the moment, have to do without high-tech detective work. Nonetheless, they eventually recover the DOA's shirt, marked with the insignia of Clearwater Truck Lines, and identify the deceased as long-hauler Wayne Asleson, on his way back from Nogales with a semi filled with entertainment-center components. But where's Roger Carr, his driving partner—and where's their truck? Wayne's gal Cathy swears he was lovable, honest, and devoted, and Carr's wife Connie vouches for him too, but Hines turns up a gambling addiction, and then the truck and Carr's body, shot by the same Walther that did in Wayne. Two murderers will be unmasked, with the last to shoot confessing all, before Hines can enjoy some much-needed eiderdown time with his girlfriend Trudy.

Like its predecessors (Par Four, 1999, etc.), a strong contender for small-town procedural honors. Self-deprecating humor and a likable cast almost make the tied-up-in-a-bow ending seem plausible.

Pub Date: May 24th, 2000
ISBN: 0-8027-3343-3
Page count: 204pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000


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