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by Annie Hogsett
Poisoned Pen Press, June 2018
310 pages
ISBN: 1464209995

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MURDER TO THE METAL by Annie Hogsett is the second in the Somebody's Bound to Wind Up Dead Mystery series chronicling the adventures of MondoMegaJackpot Lottery winner Thomas Bennington III and his girlfriend, Allie Harper. In the first book, Allie meets and rescues Tom, startled and standing in the crosswalk after an impatient driver honks the horn at him. Dazed, Tom has dropped his bag of groceries which Allie retrieves and escorts the blind man, to the safety of the sidewalk. A single lottery ticket is one of the items Allie picks up.

Allie brings Tom home with her, feeds him dinner and they fall in love. Yes, that quickly. And, naturally, Tom's ticket wins the MondoMegJackpot worth $550 million (net $200 million).

Fast forward ten months. In MURDER TO THE METAL, Allie and Tom are renting a 9,000 square foot mansion and have hired former Cleveland policeman Otis Johnson as bodyguard and gourmet chef. Seems Otis saves Allie's life in the first book when various attempts to relieve Tom of his winnings are thwarted. Now, Otis, a licensed PI in Ohio, is part of the T&A Detective Agency, formed by Tom and Allie "to use his money to help people solve their mysteries."

Enter Loretta Coates, a former colleague of Allie's when she worked at the Cleveland Public Library.

It is June and Loretta's boyfriend Lloyd Bunker is missing – since February. Allie thinks this is the type of case T&A should investigate. Tom and Otis agree, and they begin by visiting Lloyd's house looking for clues. They find the house destroyed by scrappers who left the water running after taking out copper piping to sell. No documents survived. Complaining about no clues, Allie discovers that Loretta has all of Lloyd's records only to find they are missing. Only Lloyd's address book is left behind, and Allie takes it to study.

Left alone in the mansion with the high-tech security system armed, Allie studies the address book entries. She hears someone in the house but is puzzled since the alarm didn't go off. She hides in a closet and falls asleep. When she wakes Otis and Tom are back, but Lloyd's address book is missing. Having the security system checked they find not only has the system been hacked but listening devices are installed throughout the house. Every word they've said, in any room, was heard by someone. Whoever has designs on Tom's millions is still stalking them.

While deciding what to do about the security system, the police inform T&A that Lloyd's body has been recovered. After Allie tells Loretta about Lloyd's murder, T&A decide they want to find out who murdered Lloyd and why.

There is a lot of activity in the storyline: red herrings, entertaining sidetracks, and belief-stretching situations. There is a heavy dose of romance and amusing banter between Allie and Tom. While the premise of a lottery winning, blind P.I. being the target of highly skilled electronic hackers is original, the writing makes it difficult to maintain interest. The story's flow is uneven, sometimes confusing. In the end MURDER TO THE METAL does not live up to its potential.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, May 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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