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By Christy Evans
Berkley Prime Crime, 2011 ($6.99)
Kindle eBook: $6.99
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Plumber's apprentice Georgiana Neverall expected that she might find rusty pipes when she scooted through the crawl space under her childhood home. What she didn't expect to find is several mysterious crates and the body of her mother's fiancé. Once she established that Gregory Whitlock was truly dead, she scooted back out and called 9-1-1.
Sheriff Fred Mitchell answers the call. Although he and Georgiana are friends, he is quite serious about this situation — it's the third murder case she's been involved with since she left the big city life to return to her home town of Pine Ridge, Oregon a year ago, and he's beginning to think she's a murder magnet. As she worries about how to tell her mother Gregory is gone, she sees said mother, Sandra Neverall, driving her Cadillac down the street like a mad woman. She jumps out of the Escalade, hair and makeup perfect, stylishly dressed, and stomps in her sky-high stilettos across the yard to demand why the sheriff is messing with her daughter — again. The neighborhood gossip had called and told her there were emergency vehicles in her driveway and the sheriff had Georgie in custody. He suggests they go to a more private spot and tells her about Gregory's death, and she immediately goes into shock. She is a widow for the second time, and this time her man was dead even before the wedding. A paramedic and her doctor check her out, pronounce that physically she's fine, and she regains her poise and takes command of her life, and Georgie's, again.
Since both her home, which Georgie is planning to buy, and the new McMansion Gregory had built for them, are considered crime scenes, she has nowhere else to go. The few motels in Pine Ridge are not up to her exacting standards, and she will not inconvenience a friend. Georgie has no choice but to invite her mother into her one bedroom, one bath rental, and within two days she realizes that if she doesn't help solve this crime she'll go nuts. Mom hogs the bathroom, rearranged the furniture, criticizes her wardrobe and her eating habits, and in general is a pain in the butt.
When the sheriff carts Mom off to jail on suspicion of murder, Georgie regrets her pettiness and steps up her efforts to solve the crime so Mom can go home again, even if it's her own humble dwelling. Since she doesn't need to bother with search warrants to do a bit of investigation in her mother's present and future homes, she is able to find clues the police missed. She's also able to get in a lot of trouble with the bad guys who are looking for the same thing she is, but she has some talents and muscle that they weren't expecting.
This is the third in the Georgiana Neverall series, after SINK TRAP and LEAD-PIPE CINCH, and it is well-plotted, with fresh characters and interesting twists. Each chapter begins with a tip on various plumbing issues, and I found these to be very helpful and instructive. I look forward to the further adventures of Georgiana Neverall, plumber's apprentice extraordinaire.
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