RogerBW's Blog

Coyote, Linda Barnes 25 May 2020

1990 mystery, third in the Carlotta Carlyle series (neo-noir private investigation). A hispanic woman asks Carlotta to retrieve her missing green card, because she doesn't trust La Migra. But then she vanishes, and the card turns up on the body of a murdered woman…

Things rapidly become complicated, and nobody's quite what they appear to be – for a start, the hands of the victim have been removed, and her face disfigured, which makes proving identity distinctly challenging. Deliberately? Or is it part of the killer's personal mythology?

Carlotta's "little sister" Paolina (because of a role-model program when she was still a cop) has a bigger role in this than in the previous stories, and the relationship is portrayed very effectively: prickly on both sides, but genuinely affectionate. So also with Carlotta's friend Mooney, still on the force: they're both awkward enough that they can't actually act friendly, but then there's the occasional perfect paragraph:

Mooney opened his mouth to argue. He can't help it. He's Boston Irish, born and bred, and instinct tells him to get the women and children to shelter. He opened his mouth, glared at me, and silently closed his mouth again. Bless him for that.

It's a short book, and some of the twists are rather too predictable; but it doesn't make the mistake of painting the underdogs as universally perfect, and even the villains feel more or less like plausible people. This and Muller's Sharon McCone series are working well for me in a way that Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone books didn't, and I think in both cases it's because their leads are sufficiently distinctive that they don't try to say things about the investigative heroine in the general case; rather, being female is just one of the things that make up their leads' personalities.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: The Snake Tattoo | Series: Carlotta Carlyle | Next in series: Steel Guitar

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo-nebula reread humour in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux lovecraftiana mecha men with beards museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1