A Deadly Habit
Five Star, Jul 2009, $25.95
Although not a Catholic, Hennepin County, Minnesota Probation Officer Penelope “Pen” Santucci stops at the church for confession. Father Daniel Kopecky recognizes her as the eight years old child who would come in all the time to confess though that was two decades ago. Pen explains she broke into the house of her estranged husband Paul to take her stuff with her including her first edition of A is for Alibi when she saw his corpse. She stupidly picked up the bloodied murder weapon, a statue of the Thinker, but washed off the evidence of her touching it. Having worked with cops and the court, Pen knows regardless she is the prime suspect; by his actions obviously Homicide Police Sergeant Clifford masters agrees.
Distrusting a system that wants a perfect conviction record at all costs, Pen begins her investigation into Paul’s activities starting with the money she found that he hid. Father Daniel gets her a top defense lawyer Mario Silva who is frustrated with his client’s putting her foot in it. Still she lines up the Father and her sister, Sister Germaine the nun, and applying situational ethics continues the inquiries by breaking and entering while her attorney, her former mother-in-law and some thugs want to in different degrees of force kick her butt.
This is a lighthearted fun tale enhanced by some legal thriller and police procedural moments, but mostly hyperbolizes the amateur sleuth sub-genre. Pen is am interesting lead character though even with lampooning the amateur sleuth whodunit, her antics at times overwhelms the investigative story line; readers will wonder what is wrong with her since her behavior only digs a deeper grave for her. Still though her out of control habit is overdone, the audience will enjoy A DEADLY HABIT as the heroine persuades a priest and a nun to perform criminal acts.