cover image Bloody Shame

Bloody Shame

Carolina Garcia-Aguilera. Putnam Publishing Group, $22.95 (275pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14256-7

""What a soap opera,"" says lawyer Tommy McDonald when, near the end of this story, he hears Miami PI Lupe Solano explain why the police should release jeweler Alonso Arango Sr., Tommy's client, who is being held for the shooting death of Gustavo Gaston. Tommy's assessment is generous-soap opera fans take more interest in characters and their doings than can be mustered for the folks here. Arango claims self-defense, saying Gaston attacked him with a knife which, oddly, vanished from the crime scene. Lupe cares about this only because her friend Margarita Vidal intimated that she had intriguing information on Arango-and died in a car accident before revealing it. Since Margarita was even dearer than a really good manicure (and that's dear indeed), Lupe, the quintessential Cuban-American princess, tries to sift the truth from the misinformation and outright lies supplied by Arango's obnoxious relatives and loyal employees. Lupe's concern escalates when she realizes that her Mercedes is being professionally tailed-and when the missing knife shows up embedded in another member of the Arango circle. Garcia-Aguilera creates momentum more from the quantity of suspects than from their quality. Worse, Lupe, who debuted encouragingly in Bloody Waters, rather than evolving into a complex character, is morphing into a banal admirer of luxury consumer goods. Mystery Guild alternate. (Feb.)