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A Room With No View

By Anne Argula

Ballantine, 2007 ($12.95)
ISBN-13: 978-0-345-49842-7

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Quinn ("just Quinn") has gone through several life changes -- now divorced, she left the Spokane police force, moved to Seattle, and opened a P.I. business. She’s still having hot flashes, although not as many as in the first book of the series, HOMICIDE MY OWN, and still says "da frick" a lot, but not as often as before.

Her neighbor and friend, Vincent Ainge, is a "mitigation investigator," or as he puts it, a "biographer of murderers." He looks into the background of people who committed serious crimes before their trial, hoping to find something that their defense team can use to make them seem more sympathetic and keep them from getting the death sentence. Many people, especially families of the victims, don’t think much of his job, but he genuinely wants to find the best in his clients. Some cases are harder than others -- what good things can you say about a serial rapist, or a pedophile/murderer? Vincent gave Quinn her first P.I. job, and she continues to help him in his often thankless quest.

When Eileen Jones, a young woman who worked in her office building, goes missing, the woman’s boss, Arnold Stimick, hires Quinn to find her. When he asks her name, she tells him "Just Quinn," and that’s all she seems to be called. Vince wants to help with the case -- it seems he has developed a fondness for the young lady, although they had barely spoken.

It quickly becomes clear that foul play is involved in Eileen’s disappearance. The only homicide Quinn ever worked was solved in part by paranormal means, when past life knowledge helped her and her Spokane partner, Odd, solve a cold case. It was the most interesting part of the earlier book, but it doesn’t come into play here. I hope it will come up again in future books in the series.

There were some small annoyances that carried over from HOMICIDE MY OWN -- Quinn still suffers from random hot flashes, apropos of nothing and not adding anything to the story. In my review of HOMICIDE, I said that the author’s depiction of menopause lead me to believe the author was not a woman, and that turned out to be the case -- Anne is a pseudonym for a male author. He should really let that part of Quinn’s character go, assume she’s done with The Change, and move on.

All in all, this is a good story. The author’s strength is in dialog and characterization. He could add in more description of the setting, but otherwise this is an entertaining story. As in his previous book, the clues often come from quirky sources, and the ending has an interesting twist as well. I look forward to more of Quinn’s adventures, but please, please no more unconvincing and unnecessary hot flashes.

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