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By Amy P. Meade

Midnight Ink, 2007 ($13.95)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1092-1
ISBN-10: 0-7387-1092 X

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Alfred Nussbaum was, witnesses said, very much alive when he stepped into the car and took a ride on the ferris wheel. At the end of the ride he was very much dead, for no apparent reason. The doctor says itís a heart attack, but amateur sleuth and mystery writer Marjorie McClelland suspects foul play. She pokes around the crime scene and finds a possible murder weapon, but her policeman fiancť, Robert Jameson encourages her to butt out. Needless to say, she does not follow his advice.

Creighton Ashcroft, her cohort in various adventures, believes her, and sets out to help her solve the crime. Creighton is rich, English, and in love with Marjorie, but canít bring himself to tell her so. In an effort to make her jealous, heís courting homely Sharon Schutt, which seems a little cruel, but there you are. Mrs. Patterson, his former landlady, encourages him to confess his love before itís too late. She knows all the parties involved, and realizes Marjorie is not completely sure about her decision to marry Jameson. She may not be too worried about Sharon, but she does feel pangs of jealousy about Creightonís relationship with the wealthy and glamorous Vanessa Randolph. Mrs. Randolph happens to be the late Mr. Nussbaumís employer, so of course she must be questioned.

In the second book of the Marjorie McClelland series (MILLION DOLLAR BABY was the first), it is 1935 and the nation is deep in the Depression. Townfolk are hoping to forget their troubles and have fun at the annual carnival, but the death of Mr. Nussbaum puts a damper on the frivolity for the police and for his family. Or make that his two families. Nussbaum, it turns out, has been leading a double life, and he has acquired more than one enemy. Among them are his bitter wife, his angry girlfriend, his weird son who is obsessed with crime, his bookie, and his former bosses.

A review on Booklist compares the trio of Marjorie, Creighton, and Robert to Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, and I agree with that assessment. The book has the feel of a madcap thirties movie, with engaging characters and an entertaining mystery.

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