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RUNNING ON EMPTY by Sandra Balzo


by Sandra Balzo

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7278-6981-4
Publisher: Severn House

A Wisconsin reporter comes home to murder and mayhem in a High Country resort town.

AnnaLise Griggs always called forceful, maternal Phyllis Balisteri “Mama,” while calling her own mother, pretty, delicate Lorraine Griggs, “Daisy.” When Mama calls to tell her that during the last blood drive, Daisy drained three pints from Ema Bradenham, AnnaLise knows it’s her filial duty to see what on earth is up. So she comes back to Sutherton just before Labor Day, by tradition the end of the tourist infestation of the North Carolina town’s lakefront attractions—which include Mama’s restaurant and Daisy’s store, now converted into a nightclub by young Tucker Stanton. Daisy does appear to be having odd spells, forgetting that her husband Tim died years ago and talking about secrets that need to come out. AnnaLise’s ex-boyfriend Chuck Greystone is already out, making him Sutherton’s first gay police chief. When Rance Smoaks, his predecessor, is found dead in the lake, Chuck doesn’t hesitate to question AnnaLise, Sutherton’s mayor Bobby Bradenham, and anyone else he thinks might have smoked the ill-tempered Rance. But Rance’s death is just the beginning. Someone takes a pot shot at Dickens Hart, who’s bent on turning his lakeside inn into condos. And Ichiro Katou, who thinks that what Sutherton needs is a sushi restaurant, also turns up dead. Realizing that all this madness coincides with her return, AnnaLise wonders how Daisy’s dementia fits into the crazy quilt her home has become.

Balzo’s Maggy Thorsen series (A Cup of Jo, 2010, etc.) was a mild jolt, but her new franchise is a full-throttle joyride.