Joyce and Jim Lavene
Midnight Ink, Jan 2008, $13.95
Glad is a retired police officer who with his young wife Ruby travels to NASCAR races in their RV. They are going to the Dover International Speedway to root for Ruby’s brother Bobby driving in his first year on the circuit. Glad becomes a tad upset to find a stranger in his PJs in his bed. Ruby explains that Bill was badly bruised and all alone with his cat Malibu. Glad insists Ruby get the man out of the RV; she goes in to find him missing. At the speedway someone dives off the bridge wearing Bill’s pajamas.
Ruby insists it cannot be Bill because his face was all cut up. A man talking with the police turns out to be Bill’s identical twin only he has scratches all over his face. He introduces himself to Glad and Ruby as Phil Paxton, the owner of the casino and hotel next to the speedway. Ruby believes Phil is actually Bill who killed his brother to take over his more successful identity. Ruby insists on finding out the truth; she learns from a British PI that a decade ago a Brinks car was to deliver ten million dollars to the casinos but never arrived. Rumors spread that the Paxton brothers pulled off the caper that has never been solved. Soon afterward, one Paxton is found dead, and two others missing with a demand for ten million by kidnappers for the youngest sibling.
Readers will thoroughly enjoy this enthralling thriller filled with mixed up identities, motives that prove phony, and crimes that are not what they first seem. Glad is henpecked as he just wants to watch the race and not get involved in a whodunit, but Ruby’s nagging adds humor and humanization to the story line as he capitulates to her constant demands. Although the Paxton sibling spin beyond the ten years old heist and the twin identities seems overkill, readers will be hooked up and down with the latest J&J Lavene mystery.