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Nancy Fairbanks: Holy Guacamole!


Crescent Blues Book Views Berkley Prime Crime (Paperback), ISBN 0-425-19922-3

Book: nancy fairbanks, holy guacomole
Syndicated food columnist Carolyn Blue finds herself in the middle of a murder. Again. After a truly dreadful adaptation of the opera Macbeth (involving rival drug gangs and lots of shoot-'em-up violence), the El Paso opera company's artistic director turns up dead the following morning. At first it looks like something in the guacamole didn't agree with him, but the former police officer who found him thought it looked more like suffocation. Because Carolyn and a number of other university faculty wives provided food for the event, they don't like being questioned about their relationship to Vladislav Gubenko (the stiff) or about their food.

Carolyn begins snooping around, with the help of the police officer, Luz Vallejo. Gubenko turns out to be as big of a pig as suspected. Two of the singers say Gubenko provided them visas, an awful trailer and a barely running car in exchange for the tips they earn exotic dancing at Brazen Babes -- a job Gubenko set up. The investigation leads Carolyn and Luz across the border to Juarez, out to the trailer park and more than one trip to the strip club, and they eventually nab the bad guy.

Although Carolyn features most prominently as the lead character, Luz turns out to be much more entertaining. As a faculty wife and a homemaker who allegedly writes a food column (though the book contains excerpts of her columns, Carolyn never once thinks about actually sitting down and doing any writing or deadlines or anything like that), Carolyn lives a pretty sheltered life. But hers seems overly sheltered -- during one of the trips to the strip club, she reprimands a patron for touching one of the dancers. Often, she comes across as na´ve to the point of stupidity. Which is why Luz, an ex-vice cop with arthritis in her knee and an ex-drug dog named Smack, steals the show.

The plot reads decently enough, though parts of it seemed like padding, including one very extraneous trip to Juarez that seemed to be included solely to set up a few mismatched cop laughs. Nancy Fairbanks does a good job of keeping the murderer's identity from being obvious, and the nine featured Tex-Mex recipes look very yummy.

Jen Foote

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