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As the Crow Flies by Maris Soule
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594149528
Date: 16 March 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website /

Maris Soule continues the adventures of P.J. Benson, CPA, in As the Crow Flies. P.J. repeats her history of becoming involved in murders and risking her life to solve them. When elderly Ida Delaney asks her help stopping her nephew's blackmail attempt, P.J. refuses. However, her grandmother helps Ida put a briefcase in P.J.'s trunk. Curiosity prompts P.J. to investigate the contents. Inside, she finds aerial photos, a map with marks, soil sample analyses, boxes of soil, and a pass worded cell phone. None of it makes any sense to P.J.

After she spills a glass of wine on the papers, she takes them into her laundry room to dry. A thug invades her house demanding the briefcase. He knocks her about, takes the briefcase, and drives away. Groggy and sore from the encounter, she calls the local sheriff. The officer sent, one she had dealt with before, suggests her boyfriend Wade Kingsley, a detective sergeant working for the sheriff, manhandled her, which she vehemently denies. She retrieves the papers on which she spilled the wine and gives then to the officer. He isn't impressed.

A nearby kennel operator asks P.J. to set up an accounting system for her and also asks her to come to a meeting concerning straightening a road that passes the woman's property. Two neighbors oppose the straightening. At the meeting, feelings run high, but P.J. remains ambivalent. She sees aerial photographs of the property in question that appear identical to the ones in the missing briefcase.

Ida's nephew is murdered, and Ida disappears. Meanwhile, P.J. finds a cell phone buried under other papers on the table and takes it to a computer guy she knows to ask his help. When she leaves his store, someone follows her. Later, his store is robbed. Unable to reach Wade for advice, she begins to wonder if he has lost interest in her.

P.J. cares about people and animals and that leads her into danger. The physical violence leaves its marks, but P.J. perseveres. Trying to save the life of a dog, she treads where others would refuse to go. Given her past history of placing her life in danger, the reader may wonder why she hasn't learned more caution. However, her actions lead to an exciting climax with some unexpected twists as Soule keeps readers guessing until the end.

Most of the language won't offend readers of cozy mysteries, and the sex isn't front and center. A prolific author with a number of successful romance and mystery novels to her credit, Soule plans another P.J. mystery.

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