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The Devil She Knows    by Bill Loehfelm order for
Devil She Knows
by Bill Loehfelm
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

In this chronicle of a lost soul found, Bill Loehfelm tells the fictional tale of a woman living a solitary life on New York's Staten Island working as a waitress in suspect night holes off alley entrances. If you ever wonder how such folks survive, wonder no more. Maureen lives her isolated life bereft of any real friends or relatives. Her hard shell cracks when she witnesses a sex act involving a local politician wannabe. A co-worker turns up dead. Another co-worker turns up dead. The politician, a former cop, turns up where he should not be and makes threatening calls he should not make. Another body shows up close to her mother's house on purpose.

Mom lives in the past, still waiting for the husband who deserted her when Maureen was eleven. Everything is as it was down to the pictures on the walls and the nightlight from her childhood. No one has heard from him in years. Maureen winds up grudgingly back with Mom but cannot stand the situation and is putting her mother at risk. She also encounters a police detective and believes, then doesn't believe that he is legit and wants to help.

She decides more than once to take things in her own hands because it's obvious that this bad guy is after her as some sort of prize and doesn't care who he hurts. Being a small hundred pound woman, no one takes her seriously. This is a mistake. Maureen's street-smart ways drive her forward toward a messy, but successful resolution.

This author lived in New York for many years and tells a credible tale of an underbelly culture. The storyline is pedestrian, with the overweight knight rescuing the flawed barfly maiden. The difference is the portrayal of her emotional turmoil. The reader feels the fear of a lone broke woman waiting for the bus or train in the middle of the night in a forbidding concrete world. Cab drivers are feared more because one never knows who's behind the wheel or their intent. Even the cops aren't always cops.

The tale is well enough told to keep the reader's interest and has the potential of being developed into a series. I hope the author continues the saga. Some of his characters have real potential.

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