Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Review The Con Artist of Catalina Island A McAfee Twins Mystery


Previously published here.

The Con Artist of Catalina Island A McAfee Twins Christmas Novel, by Jennifer Colt, brings the identical sibling private eyes back into the hearts and minds of readers. Kerry and Terry McAfee may look exactly alike, but the resemblance stops on the physical level. Kerry is the brains while Terry has a wild child running through her veins. Even though it cost her a stint in prison for doing drugs, she and Kerry are family. Period. This time, it will take everything they've got to solve this holiday mystery.

Wouldn't you know it, relatives pull them into their latest case. After Cousin Robert lands in the ICU after a freak accident, the twins rush to the hospital. Aunt Reba chooses the stressful moment to drop a bombshell. It's clear a place to get away from day-to-day life would help soothe nerves. Catalina Island seems perfect.

Paradise turns into a mirage when the twins book themselves into a hotel room. It seems the previous occupants had a war of words. No big deal? It's not, except that the newlywed bride now appears to be missing. When a dead body turns up, things get sticky. A case of mistaken identity is the last straw. The twins must figure out what really happened before they can get back to the business of being related.

When relatives and business are put into the same sentence, there is almost certainly bound to be trouble. Leave it to Cousin Robert, and the 'almost' gets tossed into the sea. Remember that long held family secret? It ceases to be once Robert gets wind of it. Not content with holding it between relations, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Holiday stress is promptly increased ten times over.

This book is almost too rich a read. Robert and Reba play a larger role than is perhaps strictly necessary. While the storyline opened up a new layer of depth, I thought it a little distracting. Toss in some international intrigue and thought-provoking questions are raised.

Speaking of, I have a quibble regarding terminology. When we first meet two minor players, they are introduced as deputies. Later on, they get referred to as sheriffs. Last time I checked, those roles are hardly interchangeable. A deputy ranks below a sheriff, as a vice president is under a commander-in-chief.