Go to Homepage   Donna Huston Murray:
A Score to Settle


St. Martins Press (Paperback), ISBN 0312969511
Intrigue. Drama. Peril. A housewife craves not these things. Unless, of course, that housewife is Gin Barnes. Then it's simply old hat. 

Gin's reputation as an amateur sleuth reaches far and wide -- all the way to New Jersey and Norfolk, Va., via her mother's inter-family gossip circle. So when a concerned cousin's out-of-the-blue call coincides with the murder of Norfolk Tomcat's quarterback Tim Duffy, Gin figures something must be up. The murder hits even closer to home when cousin and mother-to-be Michelle's quarterbacking husband finds himself on the suspect list -- at least his wife's.  

Michelle's brother believes the second stringer's murder caused Michelle's latest trip to the hospital. The deceased and Michelle's husband Doug shared a healthy competition -- and something else that no one seems to willing to inform Gin about. Whatever it the curious connection, it scares Michelle into almost losing yet another baby. The family needs Gin -- and fast. More than one life hangs in the balance.

So Gin packs up her best mothering skills and her analytical mind, leaves her children and husband in the capable if more than slightly off-beat hands of her mother, and jumps the first plane to Virginia. What Gin finds in the quiet, Stepford Wives community of Virginia professional football is enough jealousy, dirty business dealings, and backstabbing to keep even Sherlock Holmes and his intrepid assistant Watson well occupied. 

A Score to Settle leans heavily on the cozy side of the mystery balance. Underlying family dynamics assume greater importance than who might be lurking around the next corner or who could be the murderer's next victim.  

Gin drops everything, in the middle of Christmas season, to hold her cousin's hand through a difficult pregnancy, and she does everything she can to set Michelle's mind at ease. A sense of duty, not Gin's overactive curiosity, fuels her need to solve the murder. It's Gin's job to "fix" things -- be it her husband Rip's blood pressure or her cousin's state of mind.  

Murray weaves the interrelated tales of the dutiful relation and quick-witted gumshoe without a single snag. The tapestry of Murray's tale slides across the pages so easily the reader's fingers have no trouble dancing from one to another. Gin Barnes has become just another friend, sitting up with the reader late at night or relating her week's activities over a cup of coffee. 

Did Doug kill his back-up over some mysterious past entanglement? Or does the killer simply want someone to "show [the killer] the money?" One thing's for sure, before this case is through, Gin will run through one heck of a defense before she reaches the end zone.  

Diana L. Marsh

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