(Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-0-312-57372-0)
Trenton, NJ has Stephanie Plum...and now Pittsburgh has Roxy Abruzzo, in the new series by author Nancy Martin, creator of the previous "Blackbird sisters" books
Roxie, even with her family connections to the Mob, tries to keep on the straight and narrow, running her business, Bada Bling Architectural Salvage, with her assistant, Nooch Santonucci, and her pit bull, Rooney. Well, she tries, but not too hard and is not beyond taking advantage of a money making situation when it presents itself. After all she is a single parent, supporting her teenage daughter Sage, who lives with her aunt Loretta. Happily, it seems Loretta is a lawyer, which comes in handy when you get in as much trouble as Roxy does.
The book begins with a very damaging fire at the house of Julius Hyde, a member of a very rich and influential family.
“The only witness to the arson was a one-armed marble statue of a naked man with ivy growing where his fig leaf should have been.Hired to remove some of the architectural material from the house of before it is torn down, Roxy can't stop from helping herself to that statue of that naked man, since he is just hanging out there, so to speak, in the garden, seemingly forgotten and unlikely to be missed. But by doing so she sets in motion a whole series of events that will bring Roxy, and everything she loves, into danger.
Julius Hyde, the sixty-something heir to a massive Pittsburgh steel fortune, had been pouring oysters down the throat of his twenty-year-old manicurist when his wife came home unexpectedly from an Arizona spa. Seeing her husband attend to his pubescent mistress while blowing cigar smoke all over the silk Scalamandre draperies pushed Mrs. Hyde to the brink of insanity. So said the newspapers.
But it was the sight of the couple's Great Dane, Samson, wantonly sprawled beneath the table so the manicurist could rub his belly with her bare toes that truly pushed Mrs. Hyde over the edge.
She set fire to the house using a Bic lighter and an airline bottle of cognac. “
The comparisons to Stephanie Plum are easy to make, but Roxy is a much edgier, more damaged character, for reasons we do not begin to understand until near the end of the book. No doubt these themes, and why Roxy always has a soft spot for any abused women she comes in contact with, will be explored in future books in the series. But I just warn you that Roxy has a habit of sleeping around with almost every man who happens into her path, sometimes with a slightly disturbing effect. Yes, Roxy is having a lot more sex than Ms. Plum. And it really does not endear her to us.
As to the plot, the mystery is not terrible difficult to figure out, and when the evil doer is revealed and the reasons explains, it is not a huge surprise.
Yet, I still found this a very entertaining, fun read. The rather large cast of characters are interesting and, at times, amusing bunch. Roxy herself, her daughter, her daughter's father, Bad Boy chef Patrick Flynn, her menopausal aunt Lorraine, are all characters that I look forward to learning more about in future installments of this series. The plot is pretty fast paced and engaging, the conversation witty and often very funny. And personally, while Roxy is at times exasperating, I found her ultimately quite likable and very sympathetic. Although the comparisons are inevitable..east Coast, blue collar, Italian, a few family members who are real 'characters', crime and violence with a touch of humor...she is not Stephanie Plum. And from reading a number of other reviews online, it seems whether you like or dislike this book will rest on how you feel about Roxy.
Put me firmly in the like column!
My thanks to Amazon Vine for my copy of this book.