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THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS
by Cathy Ace
TouchWood Editions, November 2016
240 pages
$14.95
ISBN: 1771511958


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Canadian criminology professor Cait Morgan is only ten days into her month-long teaching stint in Budapest when she runs into murder—again.

It seems a common occurrence with Cait, but this time there's a twist. A Hungarian student, Zsófia Takács, asks Cait to investigate the 1976 murder of her grandmother, Ilona Seszták, killed at the University of Vancouver campus where Cait normally works. In the 1950s, a group of academics and students who had fled Hungary arrived in Canada, finding a new academic home in Vancouver. The rest of the Seszták family remained there until 1992, returning to Budapest. Cait's connection to the University of Vancouver, as well as her specialty of psychological profiling, is enough for Zsófia.

In Budapest, Cait meets Ilona's now-grown children, Alexa (Zsófia's mother) and Valentin, who turns out to be a famed fantasy author on the scale of J.K. Rowling. Alexa has no interest in reopening old wounds, while Valentin, who has Alzheimer's, may not have the best recall of those days.

With her husband Bud, a former homicide detective, still in Canada, Cait presses him into getting more information on that end. The unsolved case is puzzling: Ilona was killed on a campus bike path, late at night. No weapon was ever found and she had no known enemies. Through Skype calls, Cait and Bud begin to piece the clues they have, as the case grows stranger and stranger with long-buried secrets.

Then pressure is put on Cait to drop her investigation. Will she readily do so—or continue poking where she shouldn't, at her own peril?

The eighth in a series, this engaging book can be read without having read preceding books. It doubles as a travelogue of Budapest, showing us the beauty of the place as well as its long history. The descriptions of boat rides on the Danube and picturesque medieval castles are delightful, but best is that this all comes with a cleverly plotted mystery.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, January 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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