Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Mirror and the Mask-Ellen Hart

The Mirror and the Mask
Ellen Hart
Minotaur, Nov 10 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312375270

In Minneapolis, restaurateur Jane Lawless, owner of the Lyme House restaurant and the Xanadu Club, delays her plans for opening a third establishment due to the economy. Instead she accepts a job as a professional private investor working for her friend and sleuth A.J. Nolan. She also hires bartender Annie Archer to work at her Xanadu Club.

Annie explains to her new boss that she left Steamboat Springs, Colorado in search of her stepfather who vanished soon after her mom died in 1990 in Traverse City, Michigan. She asks Jane to find him, which Jane agrees to do, but becomes a tad upset to realize her client-employee omitted key facts and she wonders why. Meanwhile, Northland Realty VP Susan Bowman is murdered at the home she shares with her spouse Jack and her two children medical school student Curt and high school senior Sunny. As Jane digs, she increasingly fears for Annie’s life and anyone in her sphere especially Curt because she connects the two points Annie and Susan.

With Cordelia Thorn on a semi hiatus re her niece Hattie, Jane goes it alone as she investigates the almost two-decade old cold case of the disappearing stepfather. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Annie meets Jane while the two prime romantic relationships, Annie with Jane and Annie with Curt complicate a relatively simple plot. Although the prime investigation is somewhat limited, fans will enjoy the interactions between a strong cast who make for a fun Minneapolis mystery.

Harriet Klausner