RogerBW's Blog

Steel Guitar, Linda Barnes 04 August 2020

1991 mystery, fourth in the Carlotta Carlyle series (neo-noir private investigation). Carlotta runs into her old bandmate Dee Willis, who's stayed in the music business and finally made it big. But Dee's behaving weirdly even for her, and the past echoes into the present.

There's blackmail here, and corruption both large and small; and if you lie down with pigs, you're going to get muddy. Which is something of a recurring theme of the series, really; Carlotta wants a simple solution, with good guys victorious and bad guys punished, and that's never what she gets.

And of course there always more complications. Here they include Dee's tentative relationship with her new record company (she's worked hard to get this far and they could drop her in an instant), and Carlotta's ex-husband Cal who left her for Dee. And a friend's suicide years ago that suddenly takes on a whole new level of significance.

What's relatively underplayed this time round is the recurring characters; Paolina, Carlotta's adoptive "little sister", is almost absent, and her bad-idea lover Sam Gianelli doesn't show up at all. The new cast is interesting, and so's the new history, but the balance is a bit off, even if it's attempting to compensate for the relatively continuity-heavy Coyote.

I wouldn't jump into the series here, but it's a good one nonetheless.

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Previous in series: Coyote | Series: Carlotta Carlyle | Next in series: Snapshot

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