Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Female PI's star in two new tales

Two recent crime novels showcase hard-working, diligent private detectives, smart women involved in puzzling cases.

One is fast-paced, enjoyable and great fun; the other is merely satisfying, but not spectacular.

"Swift Edge" by Laura DiSilverio (Minotaur, $25.99) is the second in her series starring Charlotte "Charlie" Swift and her not-so-dynamic partner Gigi Goldman.

In Colorado Springs, Colo., world-class figure skater Dara Peterson hires Swift Investigations to track down Dmitri Fane, her missing skating partner.

The private investigators are under time constraints, as the U.S. Figureskating Championships (team trials for the Olympics) are scheduled in the next week.

Kendall, Gigi's teenage daughter and the firm's part-time receptionist, assists in the case. Charlie's romantic interest, Detective Connor Montgomery, joins the fray after bullets fly.

As the investigation continues, one suspect is discovered murdered; Dmitri's mother comes in from Detroit to help find her missing son.

Charlie's time is at a premium; she's also trying to locate a missing kid named Kungfu, who was last seen at a local tattoo parlor.

Gigi, a newcomer to the private eye business, loves using the latest spy-type equipment. Unfortunately, her lack of knowledge causes real problems and leads to unexpected, shocking experiences.

DiSilverio's sequel to her highly praised debut novel, "Swift Justice," is ideal for those who enjoy humorous mysteries. Fans of Janet Evanovich will be easily hooked and impressed; the adventures of the Swift Investigation team are highly entertaining but not quite as goofy.

Sue Grafton's crime novel "V Is for Vengeance" (Putnam, $27.95) is the latest in her best-selling, long-running series. It again features Kinsey Millhone, a determined, licensed private detective in Santa Teresa, Calif.

Set in the late 1980s, Grafton's tale involves a high-end shoplifting ring, a mob-related loan shark, a dirty cop, a frustrated wife, a petty thief on the run and much much more.

Grafton's complicated crime novel is told from three different viewpoints; unfortunately, Millhone's efforts are the least exciting.

There's way too much description offered, making for tedious reading.

Despite the rousing conclusion, it's not up to Grafton's usual high standards. Serious readers may enjoy her excellent earlier efforts and wait to pick this one up in the inevitable, shorter Reader's Digest condensed version.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on January 29, 2012.