Fallen Angels: A Mercy Allcutt Mystery

Alice Duncan, Author
Alice Duncan. Five Star, $25.95 (252p) ISBN 978-1-59414-959-7
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Upper-crust Bostonian Mercy Allcutt, who works as a secretary for policeman-turned-PI Ernest Templeton, walks a fine line between endearing naïveté and annoying simplemindedness in Duncan's by-the-numbers third cozy set in 1920s Los Angeles (after 2009's Angel's Flight). On a search for Ernie in the house of Persephone Chalmers, who hired the investigator to find some stolen jewelry, Mercy stumbles on the client's bludgeoned corpse at the foot of the stairs. In an upstairs room, she finds her boss bound and gagged. With only Mercy's word that Ernie was incapacitated, he becomes the prime murder suspect. Her amateurish efforts to clear him include probing the Adelaide Burkhard Emmanuel school of religion, to which the victim was a big donor. Mercy's penchant for being impressed by the obvious ("one more thing I'd learned since my move to Los Angeles: different ends of the country call things by different names") won't enchant every reader. (May)
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