FORTUNES OF THE DEAD

Lynn Hightower, Author
Lynn Hightower, Author . Atria $24 (310p) ISBN 978-0-7434-6389-8
Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-1-4165-7372-2
Hardcover - 527 pages - 978-0-7862-6219-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 416 pages - 978-0-7434-6390-4
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The instantly believable and deeply touching way that Hightower maneuvers her private detective Lena Padget through the dangerous clichés of working on the same case as her policeman lover, Joel Mendez, in their latest outing (after 2002's High Water) shows what a class act she is. As Lena sits alone in the giant clawfoot bathtub in the old house that she and Joel have bought together in Lexington, Ky., she indulges in a brief moment of self-pity—after Joel stalks out without a word when she tells him she's been hired to look into a case he's on. But she's soon back in impressive action, working for the family of a young female intern with the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agency who seems to have been murdered by her married lover. (And Joel returns to get his suit, tie and shirt wet by hugging her in the tub.) Just as Lena proves she's a terrific detective by getting new information on her very first interview, so Hightower shows us what a fine storyteller she is on every page. The local murder soon turns out to be connected to a revenge plot against the ATF that has its roots in the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco, Tex., and a sharply sketched ATF agent, Wilson McCoy, badly wounded in that shootout, comes out to Lexington from Los Angeles to join the investigation. There's a large cast of victims and possible villains, but Hightower makes sure that Lena and Joel's always interesting sexual footwork never gets lost in the shuffle. (Sept. 23)

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