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By Karen E. Olson
Obsidian, 2008 ($6.99)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Journalist Annie Seymour is not the type to prance around in skin-tight micro miniskirts and stilettos, but she's been forced into attending a colleague's bachelorette party at a strip club featuring an all-male review, and a friend provided the "proper" attire for such an event. When shots ring out, she steps outside and finds a man face down on the pavement. Not just any man, but her ex-husband, Ralph, who is now her late ex-husband. She manages to stay inside the crime scene tape so she can get some notes for her newspaper column. Hey, she's not cold-hearted, but she hasn't seen the guy in fifteen years and she is a crime reporter.
Homicide detective Tom Behr isn't happy to see her. The two of them have a history, both professional and personal, and he knows she has a knack for letting her curiosity get her into trouble. She fails to mention she knows the victim, which makes Tom even unhappier with her when he finds out, but what makes him livid is that she didn't mention she had a gun in her car, and the shell casings found around the body might have come from that gun. He lets her go after it's discovered that Ralph wasn't shot, but he puts her on notice to stay out of the case. Does she listen? Of course not, she's a reporter. Her boss takes her off the police beat when he learns of her connection to the victim, but that doesn't stop her. Sure, Ralph was a crook and con artist, but he didn't deserve to die like that.
She isn't entirely straight with Detective Behr when she says she hasn't seen or heard from Ralph in fifteen years. One of her friends who'd stayed in touch with Ralph told her he was back in town, and in some kind of trouble, so she went to his apartment. He wasn't there, but her fingerprints are on the doorknob. The girl can't catch a break! She also neglected to tell Tom about the anonymous hang-ups she was getting in the wee hours of the morning. She thought it was Ralph, but they keep coming after he's dead. She's not the only one withholding information, though. Turns out Ralph has hired a high-powered defense attorney, Alexandra Giametti, Annie's mother. Mom can't tell her what kind of trouble Ralph is in, but Annie knows it's something big.
The shot girl of the title is Felicia, Ralph's girlfriend. Her job involves buying shots of tequila from a bartender, then selling them for a profit to men who might be willing to buy more than the tequila. Annie goes looking for her, hoping to find out what Ralph was mixed up in, but she's disappeared. During her search, a male stripper she'd met at the bachelorette party keeps turning up unexpectedly. His stage name is Jack Hammer, and she wishes he would disappear, but he always seems to be wherever she goes.
This is the fourth, and last, book in the Annie Seymour series, following SACRED COWS, SECONDHAND SMOKE, and DEAD OF THE DAY. It was nominated for the Shamus Award. Annie is an engaging character, the plot is well done, and the humor low key. I would have enjoyed reading more in the series. Olson has a new series featuring a Las Vegas tattoo shop owner which sounds just as entertaining. The first two books are THE MISSING INK and PRETTY IN INK, with a third, DRIVEN TO INK, coming out in September and a fourth, INK FLAMINGOES, due in June 2011. I am looking forward to reading those because of Olson's writing and because of the punny titles.
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