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Heart-Shaped Box    by April Henry Amazon.com order for
Heart-Shaped Box
by April Henry
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Claire Montrose is back in another mystery, along with the amusing license-plate tags that she sprinkles throughout the story. This time Claire goes back for her twenty-year high school reunion, which is, of course, marred by the untimely death of one of the alumna.

Cindy Sanchez, once head cheerleader, popular and beautiful, is found murdered, a small wooden heart-shaped box in her hand. Cindy's murder is followed by the death of her best friend, with again an identical box found in her hand. Several other women have received such a box from an anonymous donor, Claire amongst them. Are the boxes a gift from a secret admirer, or are the women marked for death by a serial killer? With a personal stake in the matter, Claire sets out to investigate the murder. During the process she finds that, as always, public faces hide very different private lives.

Henry demonstrates again her ability to bring interesting characters to life. Most readers will identify with Claire's hesitation in revisiting her past (she was not one of the pretty and popular circle) and her struggle to recover her hard-won confidence. Of course, it helps that her gorgeous boy-friend chooses to accompany her. As one of the less popular dare one say geek? Claire also maintains her loyalty to old friends who were similarly situated in high school, standing by them even when it appears they may be guilty of murder.

Henry's third mystery does not disappoint. Claire is, as always, a likeable and competent protagonist.

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