cover image The Red Hot Empress: An Annie Szabo Mystery

The Red Hot Empress: An Annie Szabo Mystery

Meredith Blevins, Author . Forge $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0781-1

Blevins's third Annie Szabo adventure offers a more coherent plot than the previous entry to feature the California freelance journalist, The Vanished Princess (2004). Nudged by mother-in-law Madame Mina, Annie writes an article about Jimmy Qi, an Asian boy with the power to heal through music, which soon puts the youngster in danger. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the rising star of San Francisco's Chinatown—including a shady evangelist, the FBI, the tongs and a man who talks to dolphins. After two suspicious deaths, Annie and Jimmy go on the lam, not knowing whom to trust or why. Leo Rosetti, Annie's lover, and her daughter, E.B., are also tossed into the intrigue, along with meddling world-famous twins who have taken a shine to Annie and Jimmy. Through it all, Annie keeps her cool, until a devastating family secret almost costs her both her mind and her life. While the author ties up a few loose ends too neatly, she succeeds in weaving humor, zany characters and the occult into an entertaining story with serious undertones. Agent, Susan Gleason. (Sept.)