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Unwilling Accomplice by Barbara Seranella

 Publisher: Scribner ISBN: 074324558X

The 7th Munch Mancini novel in the series, it was a first for me, and a very enjoyable first at that.  Munch Mancini, ex-druggie and prostitute, now a mechanic and adoptive mother of a young precocious pre-teen, Asia, finds herself embroiled in yet another mystery when Asiaís aunt calls wanting to re-establish ties.  Aunt Lisa, with two young daughters of her own is not exactly the type that one wants to welcome back with open arms, but when Lisaís 15 year old daughter disappears, Munch must now become involved, especially when she discovers the young girl was involved with a boy who recently had been murdered.  And as Munch unravels the clues, she once again faces her ex, Rico, a cop and the man she still loves.  And as danger lurks ever closer to this nonconformist family, Munch once again finds herself fighting off old demons and facing new ones.

Though only my first, itís easy to see the appeal of this widely acclaimed series.  Munch is a character that is sincere, compassionate, and divinely flawed, with her appeal being fresh and original, and the mystery itself suspenseful and charged with emotional and moral dilemmas that are entirely appropriate to the characters themselves.  This wonít by my last Munch Mancini mystery, and I look forward to going back in time and seeing where it all began. 

 

Blood On The Wood by Gillian Linscott

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312331487 

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

When a former suffragette dies, she leaves the movement a valuable French painting, and Nell Bray is sent to retrieve it.  She returns to London with the painting and discovers that the widower has given her a copy.  He refuses to acknowledge that he has not given her the original when she confronts him, so she hatches a plot to steal it. Slinking through the country manor house after everyone has gone to bed she discovers a dead body, and subsequently gets involved in the murder investigation.

This novel is set in the early 1900ís in England during the struggles for both womenís rights and the formation of trade unions. The characters are from both the working class and the the gentry and have personalities consistent with the prejudices and politics of the time.  Linscott has created a tightly woven plot that keeps the readerís attention to the very end.