FLAMETHROWER by Maggie Estep


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Ruby Murphy, the accidental Coney Island detective who loses jobs and lovers a lot more easily than she acquires them, ends up in the middle of somebody else’s losses.

It’s no fun waiting around for your psychiatrist when she’s late, and it’s even less fun when you step out to the ladies’ room and find a severed human leg in her aquarium. The limb, Dr. Jody Ray assures Ruby, belonged to Tobias, the husband she’s separated from, who’s been kidnapped for the ransom someone assumes Jody will pay. No police, warns a note, so Jody asks Ruby if she’d please find Tobias. Between working at the Coney Island Museum and mucking out stalls in return for boarding for her live-in Ed’s horse Juan the Bullet at the stable where she first met Jody, Ruby’s a busy lady. But the combination of no time and no qualifications proves irresistible, and soon enough, she’s found Tobias, who’s unhappy but typically matter-of-fact about his missing leg. Unfortunately, that’s not all that’s missing. Before Ruby can arrange a joyous reunion between the estranged couple, Jody’s disappeared herself, along with Elliott, her favorite groom. Her trail will lead Ruby to Trout Falls, Pa., to Delaware Park and to a fiery, utterly inconclusive dénouement.

The mystery is, as usual (Hex, 2003, etc.), a shambles. But Ruby’s loopy, laconic brand of inconsequence makes her something of a distaff Kinky Friedman.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2006
ISBN: 1-4000-8273-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2006


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