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Dead Hot Mama    by Victoria Houston order for
Dead Hot Mama
by Victoria Houston
Order:  USA  Can
Prime Crime, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

This is the fifth mystery Houston has set in Loon Lake, Wisconsin, featuring retired dentist Doc Osborne and Police Chief Lew Ferris. Granted, Chief Ferris has only three deputies, but she approaches her duties with brisk efficiency.

Osborne also serves as a part-time deputy when needed, and on this occasion, Lew definitely needs additional help. To the usual list of police work occasioned by winter driving conditions, snowmobile accidents, and assorted misdemeanors, is added a growing number of corpses. Osborne's gentle black lab finds one, a beautiful young woman nude in the snow. The autopsy reveals that her tongue has been cut out. A couple of snowmobilers are also found dead, missing their lower limbs.

Osborne lends his assistance, of course, but he also has several personal concerns with which he is wrestling. His relationship with Lew is one, which seems to be continually put on hold because of her responsibilities or his family obligations. (His daughters and grandchildren are visiting for Christmas.) Then Osborne is pulled into the troubles of a youngster befriended by his own friend Ray. Warm-hearted as they are, the men are unable to ignore Lauren's woes; despite her wealthy background, she seems forlorn and desperate.

Houston does a masterful job of limning colourful characters and interweaving several plot lines. The ugly truth behind the crimes being committed in Loon Lake is presented with clarity and expertise Dead Hot Mama is a very good read, and the characters people you will want to meet again.

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