Close to a Killer

Marsha Qualey, Author
Marsha Qualey, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-385-32597-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 208 pages - 978-0-440-22763-2
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-20499-6
Prebound-Other - 182 pages - 978-0-613-28448-6
Open Ebook - 108 pages - 978-1-61187-669-7
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Anxious to start a new life after serving a 15-year prison sentence, Barrie's mother opens a beauty parlor with some of her ex-con friends, all of whom have done time for killing. Business booms at Killer Looks until the husband of a client and then another customer are brutally slain in their fashionable homes. Is one of the employees responsible for the crimes? While the police piece together clues, Barrie and her mother are terrorized by an angry citizen (or is it the real killer?). Their house is vandalized. Their shop is burned and Barrie has the feeling she is being stalked. Less taut and cohesive than Qualey's Thin Ice, this whodunit is too cluttered with peripheral social issues. Barrie's relationships with ""lost souls"" (former street people), shelter residents and an elderly couple who run a failing used bookstore are too conspicuously worked into the plot, dividing the novel's focus and diffusing its suspense. The heroine's feelings toward her ""killer"" mother are ambiguous at best (""Not that Barrie had ever decided if her mother was, technically speaking, a murderer""). Most of the time, Barrie seems quite comfortable--almost chummy--with her mother, but she periodically expresses deep resentment at being dragged away from her father and stepmother (who are spending the year in France). As in the author's previous novels, outward appearances are deceiving, but this time around, the final unveiling of truth is a letdown. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
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