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Authorized Personnel Only    by Barbara D'Amato order for
Authorized Personnel Only
by Barbara D'Amato
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2002 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Suze Figueroa has an uninvited guest in her home that she doesn't know is there; hence the title Authorized Personnel Only. The fact that Suze is a cop adds to the tension. Interspersed with the unfolding drama of this intruder is Suze's unexpected, temporary promotion to detective, due to a shortage, which lands her in the middle of a series of related homicides. Suze is ecstatic about her unforeseen promotion and eagerly steams ahead with her investigation, unaware of the danger in the home that she shares with her sister's family. This intruder has an agenda, and his boldness increases every day.

D'Amato is well-known for her Cat Marsala series, but also writes other crime fiction, with new protagonists each time. Suze is a young, single mom who is immensely likeable for her mixture of excitement and practicality. She and her son currently live with her sister's family to help with the care of her sister. The latter was severely injured in a car accident but, fortunately, is improving weekly. Suze deals with all the minor conflicts and strifes associated with melded families in a low-key and efficient manner, with a modicum of emotion, which is refreshing in today's culture. She saves her excitement for her job. Unfortunately, we're not presented with much background information on Suze, nor are we given any insight into her future.

The 'stranger in the house' plot is done well, and progessively builds up to the climax, even though the intruder's identity is disclosed early on. The ending is all that it should be, and readers will generally be satisfied.

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