cover image Snapshot


Linda Barnes. Delacorte Press, $19.95 (325pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30612-6

In the ever-increasing crowd of admirable female PIs, Boston-based Carlotta Carlyle is a stand-out and not just for her red hair and 61 frame. Self-possessed and confident, she's also short-tempered, restless and skeptical. On a referral from a neighboring psychiatrist, Carlotta is hired by Emily Woodrow, a distraught surburbanite whose seven-year-old daughter has recently died of leukemia at a local hospital. Emily suspects her daughter's death may not have been inevitable, but she disappears before sending Carlotta some promised evidence. At the same time, 11-year-old Paolina, Carlotta's Colombian ``sister'' in the Big Sisters Organization, begins to hang around with a thug in his mid-20s. Following a twisted trail, accompanied by an abundance of quirky, recognizable characters, Carlotta takes on the hospital's smugly authoritarian medical staff, uncovering a decidedly un-Hippocratic scheme, and tries to prevent Paolina from leaving the country to search for her drug-baron father. Barnes ( Coyote ; Steel Guitar ) adroitly connects the two plot lines in a nifty final turn. BOMC featured alternate; QPB selection; author tour. (June)