Ransom for an Angel: A Jeremy Ransom/Emily Charters Mystery

Fred Hunter, Author
Fred Hunter, Author Walker & Company $19.95 (237p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3253-8
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The second Jeremy Ransom/Emily Charters mystery (after Presence of Mind) opens with a stunning blonde entering Chicago detective Ransom's office, ``framed in the doorway looking as if she had just stepped out of a novel by Dashiell Hammett.'' Comparisons to Hammett end there, however, in this carefully arranged but unremarkable puzzler. The woman tells Ransom that her murder has been foretold by a psychic, and she fingers her husband as the most likely killer. Several days later, when she's murdered, it seems like an open-and-shut case-except for the complications. The obvious solution doesn't feel right to Ransom, who becomes obsessed with finding the killer even after the case is closed. There are some nice red herrings here, and the sultry Chicago summer setting is skillfully evoked. But too many of the situations remain lifeless-including the scenes between the detective and Emily Charters, ``his personal Miss Marple'' and ``ersatz grandparent.'' Generally, Hunter gets the most out of his small cast, but, despite the Chicago summer heat lamented by one and all, this remains a fairly tepid whodunit. (May)
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