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FLAMETHROWER:
A Ruby Murphy Mystery


By Maggie Estep

Three Rivers Press (September 26, 2006) $14.00
ISBN: 1400082730

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Ruby Murphy's therapist, Dr. Jody Ray, has a human leg in her waiting room fish tank. Imagine Ruby's surprise when she notices the gory limb while on her way to the bathroom. Even more surprising, Dr. Ray recognizes the leg as having belonged to her seemingly kidnaped estranged husband. There is a note. "No Police. Just wait." Despite Ruby's insistence that the police should be called, Dr. Ray plans to follow the note's instructions for reasons of her own.

Although Ruby has her hands full trying to deal with the challenges in her own life -- like a boyfriend who seems to like a new horse more than he likes Ruby -- she reluctantly takes on the task of trying to locate the rest of the missing husband.

Ruby loves horses, cats, and dogs. She even keeps a spare can of tuna in case she encounters a hungry stray. Animal lovers will get a kick out of Ruby, even if her encounters with other humans is a scary business.

The plot isn't as tight as it might be, which may be an annoyance to some readers, but it's such fun to spend time with the zany characters that I think the author is to be forgiven for the occasional rambling portions. I don't understand how I missed the first two Ruby Murphy mysteries (HEX, and GARGANTUAN). I love a smart, sassy female sleuth, be she amateur or professional and I can't resist a black comedy.

Readers who enjoy unique characters and witty dialogue should put this book on their must read list.

Other titles by this author include: DIARY OF AN EMOTIONAL IDIOT, SOFT MANIACS, LOVE DANCE OF THE MECHANICAL ANIMALS, HEX, and GARGANTUAN.

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