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Crescent Blues Book ViewsPoisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), ISBN 1590581040

Familiarity breeds contempt. Susan Slater proves the cliché true in Five o' Clock Shadow, as she seems intent on sharing main character Pauly Caton's every thought with us. After reading for the fourth time how having her down vest makes Pauly happy, the reader really stops caring. Slater's transcription of Pauly's internal monologue gave this reviewer a headache, and a few poorly punctuated sentences severely reduced any excitement the plot managed to generate.

Book: susan slater, five oclock shadow
Pleasantly quirky, the plot of Five o' Clock Shadow follows Pauly Caton, a technical writer whose husband Randy died in a tragic hot air ballooning accident. When her pictures of the balloon ride turn up a mysterious masked man with a rifle, she and the police start investigating the accident as a murder. While recovering her equilibrium at her grandmother's B&B/carnival, Pauly decides to get inside Randy's life in an attempt to uncover the secrets that killed him. Exercising her rights as heir, Pauly assumes Randy's partnership in an engineering company.

At this point some of Pauly's thoughts and actions become baffling. The other partners do not wish her to take charge of their biggest, most controversial water project. She immediately assumes they are male chauvinists, rather than realizing that a technical writer does not inspire as much confidence in this situation as say, a hydrologist. Pauly perseveres, mixing herself with a variety of unsavory suspects while trying to find the young boy she saw running away from the scene of the balloon accident.

Fighting a mounting attraction for Steve, her grandmother's newest and most tattooed partner, Pauly loses her trust in everyone around her. As her work at the engineering firm and life at her grandmother's carnival collide, Pauly fights to find her husband's killer and save her own life.

Five o' Clock Shadow provides a rather stilted read. None of the characters inspire sympathy or even vague interest, and the plot drags in many places. Plot twists and turns lose their potency given the woodenness of the characters, and this reviewer stopped caring after the first chapter.

Ceridwen Lewin

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