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Secondhand Smoke    by Karen Olson order for
Secondhand Smoke
by Karen Olson
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

Annie Seymour is a seasoned reporter. Able to swear and write copy with the best of them, she is caught off guard when a neighborhood Italian restaurant mysteriously burns down. Although Annie has spent the last few years distancing herself from her neighbors, the demise of Prego sparks her longing for more than their amazing lobster ravioli. As the cast of characters expands, Annie bumps into her former boyfriend Vinnie DeLucia, now a private investigator.

Secondhand Smoke by Karen Olson begins with an early morning fire and goes out with bang. As Annie hits the streets, the reporter in her senses the great story, but the friend in her makes her think twice - something she can't stand. She is forced to interview a grieving widow and to try to pry information out of two ex-boyfriend investigators. Annie also needs to keep junior reporter Dick Whitfield out of her hair. Just when she feels like she's got everything under control, her father suddenly shows up, twisting the plot even more. Then the newspaper's photographer turns up some unsettling details. There's also a crazy man who keeps asking whether the chickens got out of the fire. All in all, there's enough in Secondhand Smoke to keep you guessing for a while. Annie's spitfire personality, Vinny DeLucia's charming chivalry, and a good dose of mafia action make for a good read.

It's always fun to see characters who aren't as cynical as they think they are - or characters who rise to the occasion. Either type leaves readers cheering. Karen Olson writes just this style of book. Secondhand Smoke is a well-told story, with vivid descriptions of characters and places.

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