RogerBW's Blog

Lie Down With the Devil, Linda Barnes 23 January 2023

2008 thriller, twelfth and last in the Carlotta Carlyle series (neo-noir private investigation). Getting back into PI work after her absence at short notice, Carlotta takes on a prospective bride who wants the groom checked up on. But it's all much more complex than it looks.

So on one level this is a good twisty crime story, with someone ending up dead and fragments of clues pointing in different directions, as nobody ends up being quite what they appear. There's big money, and politics, and (as usual for Barnes) a slightly obscure matter clearly researched in some detail. That in itself is good stuff.

But one of the people involved in all this is Sam Gianelli, Carlotta's sometime boyfriend, sometime fiancé, currently hiding overseas because of a murder indictment – and nobody will tell Carlotta the details, not even Sam. (She's also having trouble ignoring the fact that he's a major power in the local Mafia, even if he does do a solid job of keeping her out of that side of his life.)

Of course the two sides come together, and all the dangling threads of the series that I'd been concerned about get rolled up and resolved here. One of the things I've really admired about these books is the way people have complex goals: this FBI agent isn't just a generic FBI guy, he wants this and will respond to that, and people's motivations can be puzzles to be solved as well as interesting details of character.

All right, not enough Paolina for my taste; that's true of most of the books, but in this last one there are a few details (like her relationship with her birth mother) that felt a bit glossed-over.

A fine capstone to a fine series. Thoroughly recommended if you want female-led noirish PI stories; I think I found them by a Goodreads recommendation from Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone series, but while they share a love for the fiddly details of investigation and a tendency to foreground a particular subculture or other researchable subject, these are much less action-focused and more genuinely noir in outlook.

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Previous in series: Heart of the World | Series: Carlotta Carlyle

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