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By Anne Argula

Pleasure Boat, 2005 ($16.00)

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Two Spokane cops make a routine trip to Shalish Island to pick up a thirty-five-year-old felon and his fourteen-year-old girlfriend, who were nabbed at an Indian casino, and a strange thing happens.One of the officers, young "Odd" Gunderson, gets a very strong sense of deju vu.So strong he is convinced he's been here before, in another life.Not only that -- but to say more would be a spoiler.When complications prevent them from leaving the island right away, they use the time to solve a thirty-year-old double homicide. High school sweethearts, James Coyote, a Native American, and Jeannie Olson, were brutally shotgunned while sitting on Lover's Lane one dark and stormy night.The killer was never found.Odd thinks he can change that.Some of the locals support him; others make it clear he should leave well enough alone.

This book has been described as quirky, and that it is.The relationship between the thirtyish Odd, a Spokane native, handsome and single, and Quinn, a product of the Pennsylvania coal mining region, married and disgruntled with life, is well developed, providing both humorous and poignant moments.Despite their many differences, they are comfortable with each other and have a bond that is indestructible.The reason for that is revealed fully in the ending, which might be just a tad over the top, but wraps up a lot of otherwise inexplicable details.

This is the first novel for "Anne Argula." It took me awhile to get into it, perhaps because the first few pages are kind of strange.When it was nominated for an Edgar award for best paperback original, I decided to try again.I still have some problems with it -- for one thing, the female police officer is not identified by name for several pages (page 35 in the uncorrected page proof: "The name is Officer Quinn"), her description of her menopausal symptoms seemed a bit off, and I got tired of hearing her say, or think, "da frick."Otherwise, it is very entertaining, and the concept used to solve the cold case murder is unique, to say the least.

At the Edgar awards presentation, it was revealed that novice novelist Anne is actually a well-known author of several novels and screenplays, Daryl Ponicsan, which might explain my feeling that Anne just might not be a woman.

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