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Dead Copy: A Cauley MacKinnon Novel by Kit Frazier
Review by Ernest Lilley
MIDNIGHT INK Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 073870959X
Date: 01 May 2007 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author Interview / Scoop (book #1) / Show Official Info /

Cauley MacKinnon, Austin's "Obituary Babe" is back in her second adventure, and once again her life is full of bad guys hiding in her bedroom, good guys not spending enough time there, and organized crime sinking its teeth into the city. The original cast of characters is back, plus a few new ones, and you can be sure you'll fall for this spunky Texas terror, her search and rescue dog Marlowe, and her slightly unbalanced collection of friends and family.

When the phone rings at four in the morning Cauley MacKinnon, the fallen journalist stuck writing obits as penance for past sins, is sure it can't' be good news. It's never her dream guy calling from her driveway to say he needs her, she muses.

We'll she's right, and she's wrong. In her first adventure (Scoop), she met the handsome FBI agent Tom Logan. Together they cracked a smuggling case involving a charismatic organized crime lord before Logan rode off into the night, backlit by Fourth of July fireworks, to do whatever it is when agents are called suddenly away, leaving Cauley breathing hard after setting off some fireworks of his own.

So now, when it turns out that he actually is parked in her driveway, it should be good news. Except that he's come for help on a case he's working on, not to pick up where he left off, mostly. What he really wants, it turns out, is for Cauley to fake an obit for someone, get it printed on authentic newspaper and then destroy all traces it ever existed. So Cauley sneaks into work in the predawn gloom to do a little creative writing.

When her boss comes in the shock of seeing her in at work early is nearly more than he can take, but as long as she's there he assigns her to follow up on a hunch he has that the police are preparing for a gang war. It's not her story, but Paul Shriner's, a less talented, but also less tainted reporter moving up at the paper...and over his head.

Then when she gets home she surprises a messenger from the crime organization hiding in her bungalow. Readers of the first book are used to this by now, but though Cauley could use some martial arts lessons she has a pair of important allies, her cat Muse and her search and rescue dog Marlowe. Marlowe really belongs to the FBI hunk, who gave the dog to Cauley to keep her out of trouble. Now if Cauley just had the sense to trust Marlowe's instincts instead of rushing in to see what makes his hackles rise. The messenger manages to get away, leaving the calling card of El Patron, the Argentinean crime syndicate Cauley tangled with in Scoop, but not before Muse and Marlowe left enough scratches and bites on him to make identification a snap.

The good news for Cauley is that the incident warrants a visit from both Logan and Cantu, the latter a cop who was just starting out when she was a kid and her father on the force. Her dad died too soon though and Cantu kept an eye on her ever since. Also keeping an eye on her are her two gay neighbors Beckett and Jenks, who run a salon out of their house and are always ready for a date postmortem. Of course with Cauley, what constitutes a date is pretty loose. Like meeting Logan and the mob informer he's keeping alive by faking his death at a performance by said squealer's songbird sister. Austin is to singers as Hollywood is to actresses, but it turns out that Faith, Puck's sister is far better than her Goth appearance suggests, and she manages to snag Cauley's computer savant friend Ethan's heart in the bargain.

Then, when Cauley and the squealer show up for their court date gunfire erupts, the squealer goes down and Logan gets shot in the bargain. Logan survives to go off and do more FBI stuff, and Cauley winds up taking a blood splattered Faith home to her family house for BBQ and southern hospitality. And you thought life got weird in NJ. In Texas it gets weird with big hair thrown in the bargain.

Good thing she's had practice writing Puck's obit, it's going to come in handy.

Now, it may seem like I've given a lot of the plot away. Fear not, there's plenty more where that came from. Dead Copy is full of twists and surprises from the first page to the last. Author Frazier never lets the action slow down and her intrigue is first rate throughout. Cauley could get a little more closure on her romantic life, but at least things aren't dull.

Now, don't get the idea that there's nothing more to this gumshoe gal than an obsession with guys and glam looks. Let's just say that while many of the noir PIs she's a devoted fan of, had their weaknesses - the bottle, babes, self doubt - hers is hunky guys. Fortunately she's got a terrific cast of friends around her to give her advice (unheeded), help (unwanted) and support (at least some things work out) when things go (terribly) wrong.

Which they will.

But hey, she'll get by with a little help from her friends, and we'll be waiting eagerly for the next book in the series.

Our Readers Respond

From: cheryl rae:
    you had a few typos... Dead Copy is full of twists and surprises from the fist (first) page to the last. Author Fraizer (frazier) never and Cantau (Cantu)

    Can't wait to read it!

From Editors:
    You caught me. I've now fixed all the spelling problems now. (GS)
From: Jan Yonkin:
    The worse thing about Dead Copy - and the same was true for Scoop - is that I want to keep my copy pristine! I'm going camping and I want to take Dead Copy but I don't want to get it dirty (okay, sure I've already read it twice, but hey...). I can see it's gonna cost me money to keep a pristine copy of these books. But it's worth it because Cauley gives me hope that when you really blow your life, there's always more and better life to come. Like an addiction, I want that sweet cloud of best-friend understanding and identifying-with feeling I get when I read the last paragraph. I can't wait for more.
From the Author: Kit Frazier:
    Holy cow, y'all are making me blush! This was a tough book to write, but your comments make it worth the effort. Thanks, Ernest, for such a fantastic review, and thanks Cheryl for the editorial comments and Jan, for you kind words. Now, if I could just finish Book Three . . .

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