cover image Hardware: A Carlotta Carlyle Mystery

Hardware: A Carlotta Carlyle Mystery

Linda Barnes. Delacorte Press, $19.95 (338pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30613-3

When Boston-area cabbies are targeted in a series of attacks, the professional and personal lives of Carlotta Carlyle bloom with mystery in this lively yarn. The part-time PI and part-time cab driver last seen in Snapshot is hired by the Small Taxi Association to investigate the attacks. On the same day, she discovers four microphones hidden at Green & White, the company she drives for. Sam Gianelli, her ``on-again, off-again lover'' and Green & White's co-proprietor, wants the bugs left undisturbed-though he won't say why. Sam's friend Frank sells Carlotta a new computer; on the way home she and Sam are shot at. Violence edges closer to Green & White, leading to serious injury for Sam and his co-owner, Gloria. Unexpectedly, Frank the computer maven, whom even Roz, Carlotta's tenant with a lively taste for men and the bizarre, finds odd, resurfaces. Before Carlotta can sort out taxi industry troubles, the past intrudes on the present and she discovers some surprises about Sam. The puzzle works well, but mainly it's Carlotta and her interactions with the well-drawn folks around her that make Barnes's story hum. Simultaneous release from BDD audio; author tour; rights: Gina Maccoby Literary Agency. (Mar.)