Silver Dagger Mysteries
Date: August, 2003
1570722471 (Trade Paperback) 157072248X (Hardcover)
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Reviewer Susan McBride is the
author of Overkill.
Belgrave is an author I've been keeping an eye on. I read and reviewed
her first two mysteries, In The Spirit of Murder and Deadly Quiet,
and I was truly impressed. I liked her "fish out of water"
protagonist, Claudia Hershey, very much. A police detective who'd
divorced and moved her daughter from Ohio to Central Florida, Claudia
has a lot of gumption and a nose for the truth. Her relationship
with the teenaged Robin seemed real as well, and their ongoing battles
only added depth to Claudia's character, showing the frustrations
of a single mother trying to handle a very difficult profession
and raise a child single-handedly.
said, I'd hoped for an awful lot with Deadly Associations,
Belgrave's third in the series, and maybe my expectations were just
too high. The story begins with a bang; literally--a bump on Claudia's
noggin when she pays a professional call on a home in Willow Whisper,
a new gated community in the small town of Indian Run, Florida.
The homeowner, Steven Hemmer, has lured Detective Hershey out on
false pretenses. When he lets her in, she sees four people bound
with duct tape, and Hemmer's holding them hostage with a 9 mm semiautomatic
(the same gun he broad-sided Claudia with as she entered).
Hemmer's upset because his four prisoners--members of the Willow
Whisper homeowner's association--had turned down his repeated requests
to repaint his house and replace a cracked slab of concrete patio
in his backyard. Driven to desperation, he threatens to kill them,
with Claudia as a witness. Only things don't turn out exactly as
planned, and Steven Hemmer's the one who ends up dead. Too many
things don't fit, and Claudia begins to wonder if there's more going
on than meets the eye.
investigates, she's interrupted by other problems, though none involve
her teenaged daughter who's off at horse camp. Instead, the mayor
seems bent on getting her fired; her long-lost twin comes to town
dredging up bad feelings, and her heart's set aflutter by a cowboy
she runs into at the boot-maker's shop, all of which turns Claudia
as prickly as a bad case of poison ivy. Maybe it's her constant
unpleasantness that turned me off, or all her personal troubles
that distracted from the investigation, watering down the urgency
to a point where I didn't feel any at all.
I do think Belgrave is a talented writer and encourage readers to
pick up In The Spirit of Murder and Deadly Quiet, I just
didn't particularly enjoy Deadly Associations. Somehow saying
that makes me feel like Simon Cowell on "American Idol."