The Step Between

Penny Mickelbury, Author
Penny Mickelbury, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (240p) ISBN 978-0-684-85990-3
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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In her third outing, African-American lawyer-turned-detective Carole Ann Gibson is still recovering from the death of her husband, Al Crandall, who was murdered in One Must Wait, the first novel in the series. Carole Ann and her partner, Jake Graham, a former cop, run a highly technical detective agency specializing in surveillance in Washington, D.C. Wealthy businessman Richard Islington hires Carole Ann to investigate the disappearance of his daughter, Annabelle, a young woman who has been estranged from her mother, Islington's ex-wife, and who has now seemingly deserted her father for some unknown reason. Meanwhile, Jake decides to take the case of OnShore Manufacturing, which has hired him to investigate a large corporation looking to take over the company. The two cases appear straightforward, until Jake's wife, Grace, is abducted and hints arise that Jake's two investigations may be connected. Mickelbury's prose is uneven, with some nail-biting episodes followed by dull interludes, and the characters just don't excite interest, except for Ruthie Eva, Annabelle's mother, who has managed to create a successful if somewhat unhappy life for herself. Several murders, a large warehouse fire and a finale in the Maryland woods can't rescue a muddled tale containing little spark or personality. Agent, Charlotte Sheedy. (Feb.)
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