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Death Was the Other Woman    by Linda L. Richards order for
Death Was the Other Woman
by Linda L. Richards
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Clever, energetic, and sexy, Katherine Pangborn was born - as some people might say - with a silver spoon in her mouth. Now, however, in 1931, with much of her upscale background and comfort behind her because of the family's changes in fortunes, Katherine works as a secretary, receptionist, and all around personal assistant for Dexter J. Theroux, a 'tall and dreamy' private investigator in Los Angeles.

When Rita Heppelwaite saunters into Theroux's office, she hires the under-employed P.I. to investigate her boyfriend, the wealthy Harrison Dempsey. With only a few hours expended on the case, Dexter and Pangborn discover what seems to be Dempsey's dead body (perfectly perforated with a well-placed bullet). However, when the police are later called upon to investigate, the dead body is nowhere to be found, and Theroux is in the awkward position of having to answer a whole lot of questions.

Then, when Lila Dempsey shows up at Theroux's office and wants to hire him to find her missing husband - that same guy again, Harrison Dempsey - that is when things start to get more than a little confusing for Theroux and Katherine.

Meanwhile, Theroux's good friend, the somewhat shadowy fellow known only as Mustard, turns to Theroux and Katherine for their assistance with Brucie Jergens, a recently widowed woman who needs a place to hide from the person (or persons) responsible for her husband's murder. And that is when things get really complicated and dangerous!

Well, quicker than you can say 'move over Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe,' debut novelist Linda L. Richards (the editor and co-founder of January magazine) involves Theroux, Mustard, and especially Katherine Pangborn (as narrator and lead-character) in a top-notch hard-boiled whodunit that sizzles with suspense and surprises. Stylish and edgy, Death Was the Other Woman has everything an old-school mystery fanatic could want in a good, old-fashioned mystery: an intriguing plot with more twists and turns than a canyon road in the Hollywood Hills, a cast of quirky characters and a stunning new protagonist in Katherine Pangborn, fiendishly scintillating crimes with double-crossers who get double-crossed (and murdered), and tons of page-turner fun. The bottom line is this: Death Was the Other Woman is an absolute winner. Don't miss it! (And let's hope the beautiful and exciting Ms. Pangborn appears again soon in more hard-boiled mysteries by Ms. Richards.)

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