Jackpot Justice

Marilyn J. Wooley, Author
Marilyn J. Wooley, Author Thomas Dunne Books $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-25455-1
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This winner of the 1999 St. Martin's Malice Domestic First Novel Award marks the debut of an appealing new sleuth, Cassandra Ringwald--who, like the author, is a California clinical psychologist. Cassie must evaluate part-Native American Homer Johnson, who stands accused of kidnapping Anerd Woods, the owner of Jackpot's, a used auto-parts lot, in a seemingly cut-and-dried case. To her surprise, Cassie discovers Homer to be a complex young man, a basically gentle soul enamored of Anerd's daughter, who with her boyfriend has been jailed as an accomplice. In particular, Cassie can't understand why Homer, who's one-quarter Jewish, would belong to the White People's Brigade, a local skinhead group. Since he won't talk about the kidnapping, Cassie has to figure out why he did or didn't take part in it. Before she gets very far, however, Homer is released on bail; when the used auto-parts king goes missing, Homer is charged with his murder. Balancing the care of the 80-year-old great-aunt in whose house she lives and the pursuit of two eligible bachelors, gutsy, charming Cassie eventually works her way through Homer's defenses to find out why he acts the way he does--and who really killed Anerd. With so much suspense and emotion packed into this first effort, Wooley is sure to win fans. (Apr.)
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