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by Robert L. Kellogg
Papa Press, January 2002
230 pages
ISBN: 0972348913

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There is more going on than running in the San Diego area, as a group of ³hashers² learn when they go for a scheduled run and lose one of their members along the trail. One of their anonymous members. The participants are known only by nicknames, such as Bo Peep, Wonder Buns, Drive-In Sex, and the curious Sweet Leak. These are the women. Naturally. The men have names like Batman, Backfire and Snail Trail. It¹s ³all part of the fun,² says the pointedly named Claymore Pike, the aforementioned Snail Trail, who decided running might help him lose his spare tire(s) and maybe meet some women as well now that he's been divorced over ten years. But so far the women he meets are "more promise than production. He dated a few, but none took."

When one of their group dies en route, Claymore gets professionally involved as he¹s a cop with the California Bureau of Investigation. He¹s not on his turf, but the County convinced his boss in Sacramento to loan him out because he knows these people, if not their real names.

The victim is murdered by a toxin that was stolen from CalBioSkin, a company the most attractive female of the group works for. In fact, we meet her in the Prologue as she shows up at the apartment of Oscar, who just happens to have a ³collection² of toxic proteins. She tells him ³You¹re probably not aware that I have a master¹s in Biology and I wrote my thesis on toxic proteins....² Oscar is amazed. ³You want to see my collection?...they¹re samples from my work. I¹m not really supposed to have them.² She promises not to say a word... so he points out the most deadly, and leaves her to look things over after she asks him for a cup of coffee. He needs to make some fresh, so she has ample time to confiscate a deadly dose. This woman shows no surprise that she's surrounded by fish toxins, but when she walks into the kitchen, she shows ³amazement² that he grinds his own coffee beans!

The first chapter is enough to make suspension of disbelief almost impossible, but to give the book a chance, this reader kept going. Not only do we know ³whodunit² all the way through the book, but we get the same tiring clichés every time a woman comes on the scene. Claymore is assigned to work with Det. Rhonda Sample, and ³sparks fly² when she susses out the villainess, which Claymore has lost his hormones to. However, to be fair, there's a lot of dialogue and Claymore uses the Internet and batch email to query the other members, once he learns their secret email addresses. There¹s not only poison involved, but X-rated videos and bizarre sex....and a sick little man who does the villainess¹s dirty work and whom she uses from the get-go.

The conflict goes on with Clay refusing to see the murderer just might be his current paramour, and his partner, Detective Rhonda giving him all the clues. Of course, he thinks she's just jealous---after all, all women are jealous of a woman that beautiful! There is some sex in this book but it comes across as clumsy and fumbling. And ol' Claymore always comes out of it feeling ³I can¹t believe she really slept with me.² Although this novel was a fast read, these gender clichés were unreal. No, not all women hate all beautiful other women, and can it be true that men always judge a woman¹s looks, instantaneously, before anything else? I thought they had evolved in recent decades. If you like a novel that has action, confusion, sexy women with silly names, and a divorced cop emerging from his longtime grief by taking all comers in the sexual arena, maybe this is the book for you. This reader will probably pass on the next one. --

Note: This book is available only on the publisher's website.

Reviewed by Tess Allegra, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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