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Forcing Amaryllis    by Louise Ure order for
Forcing Amaryllis
by Louise Ure
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Calla Gentry, of whom her Italian grandmother used to say 'Calla, you're not much for pretty, but you're sure good for strong', is a thirty-three year old trial consultant in Arizona. Many aspects of her life have been on hold for over two years, the time her sister Amaryllis has been in a coma after a brutal rape and subsequent suicide attempt. Calla, who used to wear bright colors, now dresses in 'all the colors of a bleak desert landscape'. Most of her earnings go to the nursing home, where her sister lies 'relaxed into an exemplar of sleep'.

Despite a longstanding agreement that Calla not handle criminal-defense cases, her boss is strapped for resources and demands that she take on Raymond Cates (accused of rape and murder) as a client. Needing her job, Calla gives in, but is shocked on meeting Cates by her sudden conviction that he was the rapist who called her sister 'Sweet Thing'. Though Cates has an alibi - from Hector Salsipuedes, who works at his father's ranch - circumstantial evidence connects him to the crime. Calla juggles her job with her own investigation, despite the conflict of interest involved. Helped by her aunt Giulia (a crossword puzzle creator), close friends Selena and Enrique, and PI Anthony Strike, Calla looks for similar crimes to her sister's and interviews the victims. She uncovers several potential suspects. But, in stalking a killer, is Calla the cat or the mouse?

Though I found the details of Calla's work as a trial consultant fascinating reading, and enjoyed her unusual situation and friends, I had trouble with the credibility of an important basis of the story, that is that the hospital physicians did not report Amy's original horrific injuries to the police. That aside, I loved the heroine, and enjoyed the suspense, the surprise and the thrilling ending as Calla was in turn called 'Sweet Thing' by a killer. I hope that Louise Ure brings Calla Gentry back for an encore.

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