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by Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime, March 2006
296 pages
ISBN: 1894917278

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Belle Palmer, like her creator, lives outside of Sudbury, Ontario, on a beautiful lake in the rugged North Country. Belle is a realtor and when she is not busy selling or listing another little piece of her northern paradise, she gets involved in sleuthing.

She met Bea when she went to list her home. Bea's relatives are Belle's neighbors and Belle was enthused about the gorgeous lakefront property. On her first showing she discovered Bea's body. There had been two other murders of women in their homes recently in Sudbury. Was this the work of a serial killer or a copy cat?

Bea's pre-teen son from her first marriage, Micro (short for Michael), doesn't like his stepfather. For the time being he is staying with Belle's neighbors and Belle befriends him. Finding him to be a charming and intelligent young man, she shows him the surrounding woods and some of the secret places she has discovered. Although she is childless by choice, Belle wonders how having a fine son like Micro must be.

When Micro runs away, Belle and the neighbors initiate a widespread search for him, and his stepfather, Dave, puts up a reward and constantly searches on his own. Belle is impressed with Dave and his regard for the boy and wonders why Micro doesn't like him.

Belle is a charming and interesting character. She lives and works in a beautiful, if dangerous setting. The long cold winters of her home can be brutal and if one is unprepared can be fatal. Reading these mysteries is just like a trip to the northland, seeing the mysterious countryside, the lakes and the wildlife.

Belle and her friends and neighbors are down-to-earth, realistic characters. The pace is slow to build but nevertheless interesting. Belle revels in her Canadian-ness (if there is such a word) and it is fun to see the differences as well as the similarities between us in the US and our neighbors to the north. Belle is a good friend and neighbor and someone I'd like to visit with over a cup of coffee.

This is the fourth book in Allin's Belle Palmer series and she was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, July 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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