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by Cath Staincliffe
Allison & Busby, May 2002
253 pages
ISBN: 0749005378

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

"Let's just say I've had better Christmases" says Sal Kilkenny at the beginning of the 5th installment in the series featuring a Manchester PI.

The story opens with Sal trying to do the Christmas shopping for her unconventional household, and remains centred, like much of her caseload, around family, domestic and community concerns. But it's no cosy. As often in this series, her caseload involves the more difficult side of family life, and it may not be possible to put problems right once the investigator has found out the secrets she is hired to discover.

As a single mother and urban PI, Sal struggles to keep work and her private life apart. At first, Sal doesn't want to take on investigating an apparent suicide - what can she find out that's going to make the grieving family of a black woman who jumped from the top of a shopping centre car park feel better? She's also wary of an assignment trailing a troubled teenager.

But both prospective clients are determined to seek her services and Sal is shocked when she finds out just how little effort the police and authorities have made to investigate - why did someone phobic about heights choose such a suicide method?

In this novel, we see Sal with a love interest for the first time - but could Stuart fit into her complicated and busy life? Does she want him to? What are his thoughts?

This book was a good, thought-provoking and sometimes very disturbing read, maybe less humour and a bit more disturbing than some of the previous ones in the series. But as always, I enjoyed hanging around a city I lived in for 3 years with Sal, and hope it won't be too long before I get to spend time with her and those close to her.

Editor's note: This is a review of the UK edition which was released in February. It appears that the UK edition may be the one distributed in the US sometime in May.

Reviewed by Luci Davin, April 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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