DEAL WITH THE DEVIL by Maxine O’Callaghan


and Other Stories
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Something for almost no one in this grab bag of 15 shorts written over a 25-year span. Six of them showcase O'Callaghan's series sleuth, Orange County private eye Delilah West, who talks the talk of California's meanest streets but still relies on intuition ("gut instinct") to solve cases. The best of these is a three-pager, "Deal With the Devil," which has Delilah delivering a killer to a limo driver working for a Mafiosa don for retribution. O'Callaghan's other continuing character, geriatric assassin Emma Hartley, who took up her husband's profession to make ends meet after he died, outwits an ice-pick-wielding rival in "It Takes One to Kill One" and poisons a thug and his bodyguard while the waiter hovers in "The Sweet Old Lady Who Sits in the Park." Of the seven remaining efforts, the five reprints include a murderess's suicide by wolf bite in "Wolf Winter," death as a hitchhiker in "Exit," Lizzie Borden shoplifting an ax in "An Insignificant Crime," and a pair of demented women in "Sorry, Frank," and "Is You Is or Is You Ain't Miranda?" The two original entries, "Survival Instinct," an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it SF episode, and "Black is the Color of My True Love's Heart," in which a family debaser gets his comeuppance, are only so-so.

The California freeways are teeming with scrappier, edgier, more engaging shamuses, and very likely more compelling professional killers as well.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7862-3142-4
Page count: 155pp
Publisher: Five Star
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001


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