Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Electric City: Review

Electric City by K. K. Beck. The cover flap tells us to imagine a cross between Nora Charles and Kinsey Millhone, a female sleuth who walks and talks like a thirty-something Lauren Becall - and we'll have a pretty good portrait of K. K. Beck's Jane da Silva. Well, not quite. At least I don't picture her as a combo of those three ladies. Jane is a former European lounge singer who has inherited her Uncle's position as investigator for Seattle's Foundation for Righting Wrongs. She values her independence, yearns for a healthy bank balance, and appreciates good wine, a great clothing sale...and a terrific-looking man.

When an oddly-matched couple appears on her doorstep, she assumes the are either magazine salespeople or out and about with surveys to be answered. She's hoping they're the harbingers of another hopeless case--the only kind she can take on for the Foundation and hope to be paid for it. It looks like it's gonna be Jane's lucky day--the bookish man and nervous young woman are worried that Irene March, their co-worker at a news clipping service, has met with foul play. It seems that Irene had been acting a bit strange and stressed right before she appeared on Jeopardy!...and won to the tune of $20,000. And now she's disappeared.

Jane gets down to business and places a "Have you seen this woman?" ad in the Seattle paper. This produces some interesting results. She hears from several people who say that Irene was shaking them down for blackmail money. But who had the biggest secret? The church deacon, the former rodeo queen, or the mother soliciting funds for her sick daughter? Jane is on the hunt find out and will discover that snooping in the backwater town of Electric City may producing some shocking secrets...and possibly her own sudden death.

This was a fun, decent read. I quite like Jane and I thought her semi-professional role as an investigator worked pretty well. The mystery isn't difficult--so I would suggest that you read it for the characters and the setting and not because you want a knotty problem to unravel. I spotted the the villain as soon as s/he trotted on I did feel a bit let down at the end...poor Jane doesn't earn her fee and one wonders (given things that are said) if she ever does. I think the Foundation's overseers are a bit tough on the lady. Three stars.

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