|Marcia Talley (Editor): Naked Came the Phoenix|
Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-25194-7
Naked Came the Phoenix reminded me strongly of that long-ago night. I couldn't escape the feeling that each of the 13 writers spent a great deal of their time at the keyboard giggling like the girls around that Arizona campfire. Each chapter gave a flavor of the author who wrote it, and yet, in most cases, still contributed to a cohesive whole.
Caroline Blessing, lately bereft of father and hoping for a reconciliation with her impossible mother, agrees to accompany said impossible parent to a very expensive and highly exclusive spa for a week of pampering. Caro finds the food scant and the clientele more irritating than awe-inspiring, despite the fact -- or maybe because of it -- she can't help rubbing elbows (and other parts) with aging rockers, skeletal supermodels, and famous psychics.
Late that night, after a quick midnight run to get some solid food to placate her still grumbling tummy, Caro overhears a nasty little conversation between resort owner Claudia de Vries and one of the guests. Of course, the next day Caro and her mother (the redoubtable and unlikable Hilda) discover the owner suffocated in one of the mud baths. Then Caro receives another nasty shock. When Claudia departed for that big spa in the sky, Claudia's husband didn't inherit the spa. Caro's mother Hilda did.
Soon someone else falls to the mysterious murderer's hand. Will Caro be next?
Actually, I didn't care. I got my kicks -- and then some -- watching each author work her way out of the maze of the previous author's making. A few chapters grated. Anne Perry's didn't seem to match what went on before, and Diana Gabaldon's read a bit more like a romance than the others. Still, as I said, overall I got the distinct feeling of more than one seasoned author snickering and muttering, "Let's see her get out of this one."
Mystery fans will enjoy comparing their favorite author's chapter against the others -- and just might come away with a brand new favorite author. In addition, the authors dedicated a percentage of the profits of Naked Came the Phoenix to breast cancer research. What a deal! Do a good deed and get rewarded with an engaging mystery. What more can a reader ask for?
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