Friday, April 23, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Revenge for Old Times' Sake by Kris Neri

Mysterious Reviews: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Crime Novel Reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

A Tracy Eaton Mystery

Cherokee McGhee (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9799694-5-X (097996945X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9799694-5-4 (9780979969454)
Publication Date: March 2010
List Price: $16.95

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Revenge for Old Times' Sake by Kris Neri
Buy Revenge for Old Times' Sake by Kris Neri

Review: Crime novelist Tracy Easton has a real-life murder mystery on her hands when the dead body of her husband's boss is found floating in her pool in Revenge for Old Times' Sake, the third mystery in this series by Kris Neri.

Tracy's husband Drew, a lawyer with Slaughter, Cohen (and a long list of other partners with their names on the door), had just concluded a high profile trial with lead attorney Ian Dragger -- with a surprise acquittal for their client, Skippy Sullivan, head of Decency and Order in Life and on Television, DOLT for short -- when she finds him punching his law partner in the nose, a news reporter's photographer conveniently handy to document the scene. Later that night, Tracy finds Dragger in their pool ... dead. Naturally, the authorities suspect Drew, but Tracy quickly learns that Dragger had a long list of enemies, from opponents in the courtroom to celebrities in the media to his own wife, any or all of whom would be happy to dance on his grave. Together with her mother, actress Martha Collins, and mother-in-law, Tracy is determined to clear her husband's name ... and to take whatever steps necessary to do it.

Revenge for Old Times' Sake is filled with colorful, animated characters, exaggerated for effect but just short of being caricatures. The situations are equally magnified, replete with hyperbolic statements that shouldn't be taken seriously ... and aren't. But probably the most appealing aspect of the book takes the form of Tracy's mother, Martha, whose wry humor won't fail to bring a smile to even the most cynical mystery reader. After Tracy finds Dragger in the pool and Drew offers to notify the police, Martha says, "Since when do you follow rules? Next time, Tracy, be bold -- don't tell them. It just makes it harder on everyone." There are also numerous film references that are fittingly appropriate to the given circumstances; the following exchange takes place later in the book:

My eyes drifted down to the pool. I couldn't believe what I saw there. I closed my eyes, and then quickly reopened them. But the vision remained.

"Mother, come here. Do you see what I see?"

She walked to my side and looked out. "I see dead people."

Thus demonstrating that the movies truly were her only frame of reference. But she was right. Once again, a stiff was doing laps in my pool.

Despite the "dead people", it's easy to forget that Revenge for Old Times' Sake is, indeed, a murder mystery, the story frequently overshadowed by the characters, situations, and dialog. Still, it's light and entertaining and not too demanding; a perfect summer read.

Special thanks to Cherokee McGhee for providing a copy of Revenge for Old Times' Sake for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Free-spirited Tracy cheers when her stuffy husband, Drew, loosens up enough to rearrange the nose of his secretive boss, Ian Dragger. But Drew's timing couldn't be worse. When Ian is found floating face down in the Eatons' pool, Drew is the prime suspect. Yet Ian made enemies like the mint makes money, and other suspects abound, starting with Ian's wife, who was at odds with her husband's affluent lifestyle, not to mention the rumored affair, and sleazy journalist Nick Wickerson, of "Nick Wick's Sin City" TV fame, whom Ian humiliated in court.

Still, Tracy expects to clear Drew in short order. But that's before help arrives -- in the form of her own mother, over-the-top movie actress Martha Collins, and her rigid-with-dignity mother-in-law, Charlotte Eaton. And when the mothers get together, the fireworks go off. Obstacles mount higher still when Drew's ex-flame, attorney CeeCee Payne, deals herself into the game. But CeeCee's peculiar behavior raises too many questions. Does she want Drew back? Or is CeeCee after revenge, since her actions threaten to condemn him to a life behind bars.

When the bodies in the Eaton pool start stacking up like timber in a logging camp, Tracy knows that nothing less than her wildest antics will do. But as the blows keep coming Drew's way, she fears that even her craziness won't be enough to save him.

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