Monday, April 9, 2012

Life Without Parole-Clare O’Donohue

Life Without Parole

Clare O’Donohue

Plume, Apr 24 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452297821

Chicago TV producer Kate Conway slowly regains her equilibrium after the death of artist husband Frank from a heart attack just after they filed for divorce (see Missing Persons). Kate has two film offers. The more exciting project is a documentary on two lifers at Dugan Correctional (Brick Tyler and Tim Campbell); the better paying one is a reality show about opening a new high end restaurant. She accepts both.

Behind her being selected for the restaurant project is the late Frank’s mistress Vera Bingham. Kate has some issues with Vera’s efforts to become her friend, but also finds she likes her in small doses. Vera calls Kate in a panic to meet her at restaurant. Someone murdered Erik Price using Vera’s stolen gun. Vera explains that investor Doug Zeiman helped her buy the gun when she told him about threats she received; he was also to meet her here, but failed to show up as she found the corpse instead. All the evidence points to Vera; Kate reluctantly investigates the homicide with help from her film crew (cameraman Andres Pena and audio Victor Pilot) and the two convicts.

The latest Kate Conway amateur sleuth is an exhilarating whodunit with a psychological underpinning. The freshness comes from Kate’s interviews with the two convicts and the contrast between naive Pollyanna Vera and “trust no one” Andres. The mystery is cleverly devised with surprising red herrings, but it is the psychological insight into Life Without Parole that makes this entry a winner.

Harriet Klausner

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