Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ask the Dead-Joyce Yarrow

Ask the Dead
Joyce Yarrow
Martin Brown, Jul 28 2005, $13.95
ISBN: 9780976540915

After nearly getting killed in Los Angeles as a private investigator, Jo Epstein decides to come home to New York where she works at Ted’s West Side News rather than continue in her former dangerous occupation. A fiftyish African-American woman Shondra Johnson says Tony Sanchez sent her. Jo helped Tony’s son with a nasty case two years ago. Although she wants to say no, Jo accepts Sondra retainer as she needs the money.

Shondra says her son Gabe was in the Bronx on a photo shoot when three Scorpion gangbangers assaulted him. He killed the one brandishing a knife, but though he stuck around NYPD Lieutenant Saleh arrested him for manslaughter; bond set at $200,000. Jo learns that her client’s son was charged with possession last year and has been a rehab customer of New Beginnings where he met wealthy social worker Leslie Corning. She talks with Gabe at prison and with a junkie witness in the Bronx Skunk who says he will not testify as he must live amongst the Scorpions. Leslie posts bond for Gabe, but both vanish as all hell has come to Jo with laundering and a corpse in the bathtub; if she is to survive she must Ask the Dead what the hell is going on?

Ask the Dead is an exhilarating New York City private investigative thriller in which the Big Apple is the superstar of the story line as Joyce Yarrow captures the essence of three of the boroughs. Readers will feel they are walking the meanest streets along side of the heroine who fans will like. The mystery is cleverly designed as nothing seems quite like it appears. Fans will enjoy the first Jo Epstein whodunit as somehow those in need seem to always find her.

Harriet Klausner

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