Kat Scratch Fever

Karen Kijewski, Author
Karen Kijewski, Author Putnam Publishing Group $22.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-14245-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 355 pages - 978-0-425-16339-9
Paperback - 978-0-425-16348-1
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In her eighth outing, scrappy Sacramento PI Kat Colorado (Honky Tonk Kat, 1996) exposes embezzlement and extortion at Hope for Kids, a charity that aids crippled and disfigured children. Attorney Richard Carter hires Kat to discover what's troubling his partner, Jim Randolph. Before she has a chance to get started, Randolph commits suicide, and Kat finds a sex video involving him that shouts ""blackmail."" With clever sleuthing, and her skill at extracting confidences, Kat discovers that the blackmailer usually strikes once, demanding a donation to Hope for Kids. Then Kat uncovers a separate scheme in which an embezzler skims from hefty contributions to Hope, unaware that much of the money comes from the wealthy prey of the wily, enterprising blackmailer. The two villains make for a great setup. The down side is that when Kat questions the blackmail victims, including some of her friends, they crumble like spongecake, eagerly revealing long-held secrets. Readers may identify the baddies early, but the blackmailer's motives are hidden and complex, requiring Kat to use all her cunning to trap him. Despite a plot leaning heavily on coincidence and a penchant for cutesy chapter introductions, Kijewski writes with wit and fine pacing, and Kat remains invigorating company. 18-city author tour. (June)
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