Benjamin's delightful follow-up to her Shamus-nominated first novel, This Dog for Hire (1996), takes PI Rachel Alexander and her beloved pit bull, Dashiell, into the quiet world of a t'ai chi chuan dojo, or school, in New York's Greenwich Village. Lisa Jacobs was the perfect daughter, an only child who, to please her parents, gave up her dream to live in China to stay in New York, where she centered her life around the dojo. Now Lisa's parents want to know why she threw herself out of a window at the school. The only lead is a terse suicide note. Hoping to learn what despair could have driven this beautiful, gentle--and by all accounts happy--woman to take her own life, Rachel poses as Lisa's cousin and moves with Dash into Lisa's apartment. Taking classes with Avi, Lisa's teacher at the dojo, she moves deeper into Lisa's life and her own study of t'ai chi--and into her investigation of Avi and the other students. After Lisa's boyfriend dies in what the police describe as an attempted mugging, Rachel discovers how hard Lisa had pursued her dreams--and just how much danger she herself has been in since her masquerade began. Benjamin's prose has the fluidity of a mastered t'ai chi form. Her characters, from the enigmatic, Zen-quoting Avi to Lisa's heartbroken parents, are vividly drawn, especially Rachel, who's an amalgam of strength and softness and who brings to mind a young, wisecracking, East Coast Kinsey Milhone. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997 Release date: 10/01/1997 Genre: Fiction
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