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WHATEVER DOESN'T KILL YOU: An Emma Howe and Billie August Mystery

Gillian Roberts, Author
Gillian Roberts, Author WHATEVER DOESN'T KILL YOU: An Emma Howe and Billie Augu $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-26269-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-312-98359-8
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Flat characters and sketchy plotting mar this second installment (after 1998's Time and Trouble ) of Anthony Award winner Roberts's series featuring Tiburon, Calif., PI Emma Howe and her assistant, Billie August. Defense attorney Michael Specht hires Emma to look into the case of Gavin Riddock, a mentally handicapped young man who's been arrested for the murder of his only friend, Tracy Lester. The evidence against Gavin is circumstantial but compelling, and his social awkwardness means that there are few people who haven't already convicted him in their hearts. Frustrated with unproductive interviews, Emma turns the case over to Billie for a fresh perspective. Billie wants to prove herself to her aloof, demanding boss, but she must juggle the competing demands of being a single mother and a competent PI. Meanwhile, Emma tries to locate the birth mother of another client and soon finds herself threading her way through the adoptive mother's lies and misdirections. The tension between Emma and Billie is engaging, but the other characters are one-dimensional. The author's presentation of the murder investigation is perfunctory and sometimes illogical; readers don't get the sense that it is building to a real understanding of what happened. The investigators themselves are unbelievably slow in picking up obvious clues, while the final resolution comes by means of a deus ex machina. This one's unlikely to make new converts to the series. (May 14)

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