HOCUS CROAKUS by Mary Daheim


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What are the odds against two murders in the same gambling mecca?

Judith Flynn and her cousin Renie, the two nosiest women in greater Seattle (Suture Self, 2000), are spending a week at the Stillasnowamish Resort Casino with their long-suffering husbands and bickering mothers. While the moms focus on in-room closed-circuit betting, Bill and Joe try out their system at the roulette tables, Renie happily plunks tokens into the slots, and Judith looks for something more interesting to do. Her eyes light on a snazzy Corvette display and really light up when she spots a corpse in the driver’s seat: the beautiful Salome, assistant to the nightclub magician, the Great Mandolini. Wow! Neat! A murder for Judith to solve. There’s another one, of course: Micki, the Great Mandolin’s fiancée, found dead in a restroom. And, boy, are there ever suspects—dealers, security guards, ex-wives, Mandolini’s manager, a huffy second magician who helped stage the illusions, even a drunken poodle—and clues: bloodstains on costumes, bloodstains on a saber, missing wigs, locked trunks, trapdoors, and mysterious power outages. When he’s not shooting craps, ex–homicide cop Joe helps casino manager Pancho Green investigate, but it’s up to Judith to figure things out.

An amusing take on Native American gambling emporiums (with wry asides on the foibles of home remodeling), but most readers will feel short-changed when the plot deflates with one humongous trick too many.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-380-97868-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2003


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