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by Liz Evans
Orion, July 2005
320 pages
ISBN: 0752859838

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

If you're looking for a strong female protagonist, an interesting plot or two, but with a feel-good factor and plenty of humour, look no further than CUE THE EASTER BUNNY by Liz Evans.

Grace Smith is a private investigator eking out a living in Seatoun, a fictional seaside town in England. Work has been so thin on the ground lately that Grace has taken a week's temporary work for the Tourist Board, dressing up as the Easter Bunny and handing out Easter Eggs to children in the town, to the great amusement of her friends.

Ever resourceful though, Grace has also used the job as a way of handing out leaflets for her own investigations business, and whilst the Bunny job ends in a fiasco that haunts Grace for the rest of the novel she does indeed find a new client.

Della Black tells Grace that her son is being driven to distraction by a series of anonymous threatening letters and wants her to find out who is sending them. Jonathan Black grew up in Seatoun but has only recently moved back, with his wife Clemency, a soap star whose series is using Seatoun for its location shoot. Also in tow is their childhood friend Bianca, who seems to be a lonely, star-struck, unpaid slave for the couple, and who is doing all the internal conversion and decorating work.

Della introduces Grace to their household as a gardener who will sort out their overgrown wilderness, but following an accident which damages Bianca's arm, she is soon helping out more generally at the house, and a very troubled household it is too. Jonathan seems suicidal, is usually high on drink and drugs, and Clemency seems to be habitually unfaithful. The letters do keep coming, but of greater concern to Grace is the fact that the family's giant rabbit, Cappuccino, seems to have fallen in love with her leg.

But watching the Blacks isn't Grace's only case. Her old ally O'Hara turns up and wants Grace's help with a murder that his brother, a bent cop, confessed to involvement with on his death bed.

Fourteen years earlier, Heidi Walkinshaw never returned from her paper round. A local child rapist was strongly suspected, but he was murdered before charges were brought, supposedly by Heidi's father who confessed to the crime. However, O'Hara's brother confided that he and his police partner were the ones responsible for the killing, and it was one of his dying wishes that Heidi's body be found and laid to rest.

So between disastrous gardening stints, Grace and O'Hara track down Heidi's' family and friends, and retrace her steps on the day she went missing, seeking facts the police overlooked at the time, and hoping for new information. Before long, Grace isn't just battling her amorous thoughts about O'Hara -- someone wants her dead.

CUE THE EASTER BUNNY is one of the most enjoyable books I've read for a long time. The story lines are engrossing, and the characters engaging. There is good romantic tension between Grace and O'Hara, usually given very witty treatment.

The reinvestigation of the cold case has several unexpected but believable elements, and I enjoyed the use of the seaside location, with its down at heel touristy town, and beautiful beaches. I found this book much funnier than I remember the only previous episode of this six-book series that I've read before, and had several laugh out-loud moments, a rare thing for me. I'll be scampering off to read the others now.

Reviewed by Bridget Bolton, July 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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