Dead Write: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery
by Sheila Lowe
Review by Gayle Surrette
Signet Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451228123
Date: 04 August 2009 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Claudia Rose is trying to cope with living with a teenager. Annabelle Giordano had been allowed to live with Claudia since the death of her father. Police detective Joel Jovanic is spending most of his free time at Claudia's home. He wants commitment and Claudia is feeling an urge to flee. So, when she's offered a chance to go to New York to evaluate handwriting samples for Baroness Grusha Olinetsky, to help her pick clients for her dating service, Elite Introductions, she's cautious, but interested. But when she learns her nemesis Andrew Nicholson had just been fired for incompetence, Claudia agrees. Of course that was before she knew that several of Olinetsky's clients had died under suspicious circumstances.
Dead Write is all about getting beneath the surface and finding out what people are really like. Claudia has walked into a complicated mess and she's not getting all the answers she needs to figure out what's going on. Several clients of Elite Introductions have been killed in accidents, but Claudia is convinced it might be murder. The handwriting samples she's given show that some of the clients could be bad-news if matched to the wrong person. But more than that, she's got the feeling that she's being lied to. Claudia uses her own contacts to learn more about her client and her business and the owners of the handwriting she's analyzed.
Once again the reader gets some interesting detail on how forensic handwriting analysis works. Claudia's detail oriented mind, which is what makes her such a great handwriting analyst, also lends itself to spotting inconsistencies in stories and links that others might miss. She realizes that there is a killer loose and tries to do what she can to find out who it could be before someone else is killed. But it would be a lot easier if Annabelle hadn't spied on Joel and sent some incriminating photos of Joel and his female partner.
The stress ramps up as Claudia walks a thin line between helping her client, keeping professional secrets, and letting the police know about her suspicions regarding the murders. Lowe manages to keep the reader in suspense and wondering not only who did it, but how and why, up to nearly the last page. There's some interesting surprises and some near misses to keep you glued to your favorite reading spot until the last page.