Ransom for a Holiday

Fred Hunter, Author
Fred Hunter, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-16976-3
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A two-year-old murder interrupts a Christmas vacation in the fourth outing (following Ransom for an Angel) of one of the more improbable of current-day sleuthing partnerships. Chicago homicide detective Jeremy Ransom is somewhat prissy and fond of Charles Dickens. His elderly friend, Emily Charters, is recovering from heart surgery and needs a change of pace. The twosome retreat to the Michigan guest house of Sara Bartlett, whose brother Nathan was pitchforked to death two Christmases ago. Sara was a very good suspect, but Jeff Fields, the local cop, was her boyfriend. Sara was cleared, but the locals are naturally still suspicious. Meanwhile, two mysterious drifters have since entered Sara's traumatized life: Johnnie Larkin is young and ingratiating; Hansen Crane is surly and soon becomes the second victim of a killer with a secret still worth murdering for. Emily is a classic crime-cozy old lady with a delicate manner and a steel-trap mind. Jeremy is an impatient man with nothing but kind thoughts towards Emily and a passion for unearthing justice. The series isn't for hard-boiled devotees, but mystery traditionalists will enjoy Hunter's careful plotting and thrills of a chaste and purely cerebral nature. (Dec.)
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