Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: 2002
ISBN: 1-59058-040-0
Format Reviewed: Hardbound
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Genre: Mystery
Reviewer: Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewer Notes:

Beat Until Stiff
By Claire M. Johnson 

     Mary Ryan is a reluctantly divorced pastry chef at an upscale restaurant in San Francisco. Lonely and grieving over her failed marriage, Mary arrives at work early one morning to discover that one of her El Salvadoran assistants has been killed and stuffed into a laundry bag. The intrepid Inspector O'Connor, Mary's ex-husband's former homicide partner, is the officer who takes on the case. Mary finds herself in imminent danger as she surreptitiously investigates the murder. Then someone kills the charismatic chef, and leaves him in Mary's bed, trying to frame her for the murder.

     Johnson has a sharp sense of humor and intimate knowledge of the San Francisco restaurant business. She lays bare the scandalous restaurant secrets: the wives, mistresses, promiscuous chefs, illegal immigrants, and dope smuggling.

     The book has almost unbearable tension and suspense leading to a surprise ending. Mary Ryan is an appealing character, and her interaction with the other characters keeps you glued to the pages. I missed some sleep finishing this book. Claire Johnson has a real winner in her first novel and is definitely an author to watch for.

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