cover image LITTLE BLACK DRESS: A Peter Macklin Mystery

LITTLE BLACK DRESS: A Peter Macklin Mystery

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . Forge, $23.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0894-8

The conflict at the heart of this intense, powerfully told story is almost Shakespearean: to protect the woman he loves, retired killer Peter Macklin must go back to his old life, knowing that in so doing he risks losing her. Peter and his much younger wife, Laurie, both yearning for a quiet existence, have come to her Ohio hometown to buy her grandfather's farm. The bucolic dreams quickly get dirty. Laurie's mother, Pamela, a bookstore manager, is dating a man whom Peter recognizes as a fellow killer. Peter's instincts tell him that an upcoming special event at the bookstore is the likely setting for trouble, and so he comes prepared to protect Laurie and Pamela the only way he knows—with the violence that Laurie abhors. Having unexpectedly found love in middle age, Peter is determined to shed his old life. But that requires keeping secrets from a woman with a fierce sense of honesty. She has already forgiven him once (in 2002's Something Borrowed, Something Black ); how far will love stretch? Estleman's extra-tight plots always demand attention, but this one has a structure that, while no copycat, somehow feels more familiar—up until the final bittersweet twist. (Apr. 1)