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JUST ADD WATER


By Jinx Schwartz

WhoooDoo Mysteries, 2006 ($14.95)
ISBN: 1-932695-20-6

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Hetta Coffey is a thirty-something civil engineer who's been nursing a broken heart since she was jilted in Japan by a charming con artist. Now back in Oakland, she's trying to build her consulting business and keep up with the repairs on her decrepit Victorian house. Since she came back, she's been giving all her love to her dog R.J., but she's finally reached the stage of needing male companionship again. She and her BFF Jan, who've known each other since their school days back in Texas, decide to go "trolling for triceps" on the waterfront. They do have some success, but Hetta thinks she'll have even better luck if she has her own boat - even though she knows next to nothing about the boating world.

She thought she'd seen the last of Hudson Williams, who left her days before their wedding, leaving her broken-hearted and just plain broke. He's not done with her yet, however. She took something he really, really wants, and he makes her life miserable as he tries to get it back. Before that story is all over, she becomes a suspect in a murder and gets to know a SFPD detective very well, in a platonic sense only. She also loses someone very dear to her, and when she finally does get her dream boat, she memorializes him by naming it after him, changing the name from its rather naughty original moniker, the Sea Cock.

Hetta is a hard-drinking, good timing Texas girl, raised by an eclectic mixture of Hard-Shell Baptists, Baha'I and red-necked backsliders. She's bright, brassy, brash and bossy - just ask her friend Jan - who doesn't always use her best judgment in her relationships, and is prone to rely too much on the kindness of strangers. She's tough and resourceful as well, which comes in handy in getting her out of some precarious situations. This is the first book in the series, and I quickly picked up the second, JUST ADD SALT, to see what happens next with Hetta and her gang.

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