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by Kate Collins
Signet, March 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0451220749

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Abby Knight is happy with her flower shop, with her family and her good-looking new boyfriend, Marco, who is an ex cop and now owns a bar. During her town's annual Pickle Fest, Abby accidentally runs into one of the clowns at the parade and the clown yells at her and threatens revenge. Abby is very upset and complains to her family, friends and Marco.

Marco, a man of mystery at the best of times, smiles and says he will take care of it. Abby had seen Marco with a young woman earlier and feels jealous and asks about it, but Marco says that the woman was his sister's old friend who has a problem. Abby tries to forget everything and continues on with her family and friends at the celebration. The next day the newspaper reveals that the man in the clown suit, Dennis Ryson, has been found dead and the main suspect in his death is an ex cop, her Marco!

Abby knows enough about her man to be certain that he didn't murder anyone. But when Marco contacts her and asks if she will help prove him innocent, Abby is at first afraid that she doesn't have the skills needed to really help him. After all, the other murders she solved didn't have to do with saving the life of the man she loves. But then she accepts the challenge and vows that she will do everything she can to find the truth.

With only a week before the grand jury meets to decide if Marco will be indicted or not, Abby starts to investigate. As she talks to everyone who might know something about the incident and about Dennis Ryson's life and his job as a clown, Abby also discovers that Marco has a few secrets of his own. Abby is shaken when the thought that Marco might be guilty enters her head. Then when her life is put into jeopardy, Abby isn't sure what to think and who to trust.

Like many other amateur sleuths, Abby has no helpful contacts in the police department to rely upon and no background in investigating murders other then the cases she has already solved in this series. Because she accepts her shortcomings, Abby is a breath of fresh air when it comes to untrained mystery solvers. She is more than willing to use her instincts to help her, even when she has to use the old trick of opening a few buttons on her blouse to make the men she's questioning lose a few IQ points. She's not proud of doing it, but she uses any tricks she can as she tries to make up for her lack of being a better investigator.

I also like that the secondary characters, along with the people created just for this installment, all seemed to have fully fleshed out personalities. Even the bad guy's mother comes across as a full-fledged person with a history and reasons for doing what she does.

All in all, ACTS OF VIOLETS is a well written, enjoyable murder mystery with a likable cast that will make you want to come back to read any additional books in this series. This is yet another book to put on your reading list.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, April 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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