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A DEADLY ROW
by Casey Mayes
Berkley, September 2010
242 pages
$7.99
ISBN: 0425236412


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Zach Stone used to be the chief of police in Charlotte, NC; a bullet to the chest made him disabled enough that he's retired. Savannah, his wife, is very happy with that situation, although she tolerates his occasional consulting job. She keeps busy, now that she's no longer teaching math, by creating logic and math puzzles for newspapers around the country. When a family friend and Zach's old boss, the mayor of Charlotte, is caught up in a series of murders, Zach is offered a consulting job and Savannah insists on going with him.

Her skills come in handy. The killer has been leaving clues that make sense only to Savannah. While Zach and his crew do the dull and necessary routine work involved in this kind of case, Savannah concentrates on the clues. She also spends some time with old friends, and makes a few new ones. At least one of these new friends is quite powerful, in a very discreet way.

In the middle of the investigation, Savannah is handed something from her past that will change her world. Dealing with the ramifications of that, and worrying about her husband and her own safety makes this trip to Charlotte nothing like a vacation. Still, Savannah is one of those positive people who take what life deals her and does the best she can with it.

Savannah and Zach are not in their twenties. They bring some life experiences, both personal and professional, to this case. While Savannah does have a tendency to tell everyone just how wonderful Zach is, it is refreshing to read about a couple that isn't angst-ridden. The relationship feels real. Mayes is also quite good at planting clues and red herrings. There are many possibilities for the reader to consider. Those with a taste for the logic puzzles that Savannah creates may have more of an edge in solving this than readers who don't, but there are hints that a non-puzzle oriented reader can use to figure out the solution. A DEADLY ROW is quite a pleasant traditional mystery, with just enough police procedural thrown in to keep it interesting.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, July 2010

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