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by Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, June 2024
288 pages
ISBN: 0593199529

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Charlie's new archive assistant, Tara Martin, is proving challenging to get acquainted with while she is a hard worker, she is socially inept, often short with folks, and seems angry, maybe scared. She works part-time for Charlie, cataloging books, and at Helen's restaurant.

The night Charlie's son hosts a catered party to celebrate the renovation of the family farmhouse, Charlie sees Tara running frantically out the back door after leaving a tray in the main room. When he gets out the back door, Tara is nowhere in sight, and worried about her, he rounds up friends to search for her. When he finds her in the darkened root cellar, she claims to have suffered a panic attack. Charlie takes her home to an apartment complex, and she refuses his offer to see her to her door.

A few days later, Tara is found dead along the highway, the victim of a hit and run.

Charlie discusses Tara's behavior with Melba, and they both agree there is something suspicious about Tara, especially her murder. Chief Deputy Kanesha Berry admits that Tara Martin doesn't exist, and they can't find her real name or where she lived in town.

Then Charlie's office and Helen's restaurant are broken into and searched. Charlie realizes that Tara must have hidden something her murderer wants. He carefully searches the books she cataloged and finds two slips of paper with codes. Under a drawer in her desk, he finds a key taped underneath. Charlie turns them over to the police with no idea what they mean.

The investigation moves slowly. In the meantime, Charlie is dealing with his upcoming wedding with Helen, and they are discussing living arrangements and wedding details. Maine Coon cat Diesel and young kitten Ramses provide the usual feline relief and amusement.

Miranda James concocts a complex mystery that provides riveting suspense as Charlie, Kanesha, Haskell, and Stewart gather information to uncover the why and what happened to Tara Martin.

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, June 2024

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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