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Positioned to Die    by Denise Osborne order for
Positioned to Die
by Denise Osborne
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Salome Waterhouse is back. In this second installment of her adventures, life seems much less unsettled for the feng shui practitioner. Her business appears to be thriving, and she is obviously comfortable in the Washington setting where she spends much of her time. (She also has a residence and family in California.) Best of all, she is not a murder suspect, as she was in A Deadly Arrangement.

All the same, Salome has a nose for trouble. She arrives at her Washington home at night, surprising a mysterious intruder, and finds much that is unsettling. A new neighbour, Duncan Mah, is pursuing actions destructive to harmony (such as ripping out a venerable rose garden to make room for parking). Two of her neighbours have been burgled, and the culprit is still at large. Most serious of all, a decorator popular with the political in-crowd has been found murdered. (It is perhaps fortunate that Salome was out of town at the time, since the victim was an outspoken detractor of feng shui practitioners in general, and Salome in particular.) Her friend and house-sitter, a policeman turned private detective, is drawn into the murder investigation by his daughter, who is romantically involved with the chief suspect. Salome deals herself in as well, desiring to feng shui this latest crime scene for her project involving murder houses: is there something in them that encourages murder?

Osborne provides once again a variety of interesting characters, while showing us another aspect of her lively and energetic protagonist's life. Salome, away from her California home and family, shows confidence and ease in her dealings with friends, clients, and even ill-wishers. There is also a wealth of feng shui tidbits (I wish I could absorb Salome's attitude toward house-cleaning) worth pondering for one's own home. I found the plot rather less satisfying, as the author chose to keep certain things unresolved, doubtless to pick up again in a future work. (Admittedly this is a time-honoured device, but I like tidy endings.) I did guess who the culprit was before the end of the story, although certainly not the details. All in all, Positioned to Die is a a solid read that nicely fleshes out the protagonist and the business side of her life.

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