Meredith Blevins, Author . Forge $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0769-9

Fascinating gypsy lore, unforgettable characters and a wicked sense of humor distinguish Blevins's highly unusual mystery debut. Native Californian Annie Szabo, writer, mother and widow, thinks her life is finally on track until her childhood friend and occasional lover Jerry is found dead of an apparent heart attack in the parking lot of his San Francisco office building. When the autopsy proves Jerry was murdered, Annie begins an investigation with her mother-in-law, Madame Mina, fortune-teller and head of her late husband's family, a loosely knit but loyal gypsy clan. After Jerry's wild funeral, they must use any methods available to find his killer. The author has expertly combined myth, legend and the dark side of human nature and tempered the mix with wit. Particularly engaging are Mina with her double-edged remarks and a peculiar and sexy Romani man known as the Hummingbird Wizard. A dramatic conclusion leads to revelations of the heart that cause Annie to see her in-laws in a new light. This stellar first, with its assured prose ("Jerry and I grew up before smog was invented," reads the first sentence), will delight any mystery fan. Agent, Susan Gleason.(Sept. 17)

Forecast:With blurbs from Tony Hillerman, Jonathan Kellerman and Clive Cussler, plus a regional author tour, expect strong sales for a first mystery.

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 446 pages - 978-0-692-20386-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 400 pages - 978-0-7653-4683-4
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