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Written In Blood: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery by Sheila Lowe
Review by Gayle Surrette
Signet Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451224873
Date: 02 September 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Interview: Sheila Lowe / Show Official Info /

Claudia Rose has a new client, Paige Sorensen. Her elderly husband, Torg Sorensen, has died and left everything, including Sorensen Academy, to Paige. Since the stepchildren are older than their stepmother and hate her -- a protest is definitely in the works. Paige has a way of drawing people to her and Claudia, against her own rules, offers to help with a troubled student. It doesn't take long before Claudia remembers that she had the rule about not getting involved for a very, very, good reason. Now, she needs to find out what's going on before she gets killed.

We first met Claudia Rose in Poison Pen. Claudia is a forensic handwriting expert and an officer of the court. Since, she's often called as an expert witness working with prosecution and defense, she knows may people in law enforcement. In Poison Pen, she met Detective Joel Javanic with LAPD, and they found to their mutual surprise that they clicked together. Their relationship is rocky but they're trying to make it work. Or they were until a troubled teen dropped into their lives courtesy of Paige Sorensen.

I'm finding Claudia to be a very interesting character. She makes a great amateur sleuth because she knows enough about police procedures and rules to be dangerous to herself, and she has the connections that mean she'll be wandering into cases that need to be solved. I'm also finding forensic handwriting analysis to be fascinating though since it's nearly a hundred percent tiny details. I am just amazed by people who can deal with such fine distinctions for such extended period of time with total concentration. All of the characters are fully fleshed out, dialogue is crisp, witty, and believable.

This second novel is much tighter and more polished than the first. My only quibble is that often Claudia seemed to just ignore the details and for a detail person this made little sense. But, then I remind myself that she's under pressure and scared. People hardly ever act totally rational under pressure so do you want the main character to be logical or normal? I guessed the killer long before the end but the story is so compelling I just had to keep reading to find out how it all played out.

If you enjoy forensics then give these Forensic handwriting mysteries a try. It's a different slant on the field wrapped in some pretty believable story lines.

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