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by Jeff Abbott
Onyx Signet, September 2002
404 pages
ISBN: 0451410505

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Lucy Gilbert, Judge Whit Mosely's girlfriend, comes into Whit's office and tells him that her uncle, 70 year old Patch Gilbert, is missing. The local police find Patch and his friend, a 69-year old Vietnamese widow, dead in a thick stand of Black Jack pines. In the grave with the couple are old bones and some hinges and latches from an old chest.

David Power, one of the local cops, (and Detective Claudia Salazar's ex-husband, ) suspects Lucy of the murder, mostly because he dislikes Whit. Meanwhile, Claudia is having a fling with Ben Vaughn, an old high-school flame recently returned to town. Ben's brother, Stoney, is a wealthy financier, and Ben is staying in his mansion for a while. Ben and Claudia go out onto the Gulf in Stoney's boat one day, and they are kidnapped by a strange group of men, one of whom purports to be a descendant of Jean Lafitte, the pirate, who supposedly buried a fortune in coins and gemstones in a cove in this part of the Texas gulf cost.

This is a sequel to A Kiss Gone Bad . I was really glad to see that Jeff Abbott was back with a new series,. He had been missing from the mystery scene for too long, but this series is nowhere nearly as good as the earlier one. Too many people come back to town and have adventures. Whit returned from somewhere else in the last book only to be elected judge. He always wears loud Hawaiian shirts and Birkenstocks, Lucy runs a phone psychic hot-line, Her sister purports to be an artist, but she paints very bad abstracts. The Vietnamese family is brought in only to say that they are discriminated against, and Claudia's antipathy against her ex-husband is never really explained.

The end of the book is suitably convincing, but this book really reads like an airport thriller. I know that Abbott can write better than this and I will try the next book in the series, but unless he makes his characters more convincing and likeable, it will be my last.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, September 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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