Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Calculated Loss by Linda L. Richards

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Calculated Loss by Linda L. Richards. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Calculated Loss by Linda L. Richards

Calculated Loss by Linda L. Richards
A Madeline Carter Mystery
Mira (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2345-5 (0778323455)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2345-7 (9780778323457)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): It's been years since former stockbroker Madeline Carter bothered thinking about her gastronomically gifted ex-husband, Chef Braydon Gauthier. Between quitting her soul-sucking career and discovering what life is like during daylight hours she's been kind of busy. But when Madeline learns Braydon took his own life, she drops everything and hightails it to the funeral.

It doesn't take long to realize Braydon's death is more murder than suicide. Madeline knows her ex would never have prepared himself a poison-laced dinner of duck a l'orange -- let alone pair it with a big, beefy Shiraz! The culinary star would have eaten fast food first.

So who's responsible? Madeline definitely has her suspicions, but one thing's clear: in the pressure-cooker world of high cuisine and higher stakes, a reputation is worth killing for.

Review: Calculated Loss is the third mystery by Linda L. Richards to feature former stock broker and current day trader Madeline Carter, this time leaving Los Angeles for Vancouver to attend the funeral of her ex-husband, renowned chef Braydon Gauthier.

Though Braydon's death is ruled a suicide, his family is suspicious, especially when leadership of his company is turned over the brother of Braydon's current wife. When Madeline arrives in Vancouver she is asked by Braydon's family to take a look at the corporate finances, and what she finds concerns her. Though the company appears healthy, it has recently been delisted from the major stock exchanges. Madeline's subsequent investigation leads her to believe that Braydon did not die by his own hand.

At one point in the book, Madeline muses, "And what, I asked myself, did any of this have to do with me? Nothing, I told myself. Everything. Old debts, new curiosities, and the curse of a personality that seldom lets me leave well enough alone."

Richards effortlessly blends Madeline's reminiscing about her life with Braydon and her current investigation into his death. It's frequently very touching and, as the author mentions in a forward, very personal. The background information required to explain some of the corporate antics are appropriately detailed without weighing down the story. The plot itself is well thought out and plausible, though Braydon's death from the fruit of the "suicide" tree is a bit of a cliché. (And it's never quite explained how he came to ingest it.)

Calculated Loss has a more reasoned, better structured and focused story than Richards' previous book in the series, itself the very appealing The Next Ex. As a result, Calculated Loss is an intriguing mystery that effectively combines high finance with haute cuisine and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to Mira Books for providing a copy of Calculated Loss for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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