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Judith Skillings: Dangerous Curves

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Avon Books (Paperback), ISBN 0-06-058319-3

Book: judith skillings, dangerous curves
The back of the book biography of author Judith Skillings reveals that she and her husband own and operate a Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcar restoration shop in eastern Pennsylvania. That reality transforms itself into the foundation for fiction featuring Skillings' heroine, Rebecca Moore. Moore, a former investigative reporter, earns her livelihood as the owner of just such a business, "Vintage and Classics," in the Washington DC area. Unlike the author's business, however, "Vintage and Classics" employs a group of ex-cons, a difference which leads the reader into an imaginative and appealing yarn.

A phone call from one of her employees alerts Moore to the discovery of the young woman's body wedged between the seats of a Bentley being transported by one of Moore's trucks. Rushing to the scene, she finds her drivers in police custody accused of the murder. Police identify the body as that of a dancer working at a strip joint named Gentlemen Only. The drivers initially deny ever visiting the club, but one of them finally admits to frequenting the establishment on several occasions for reasons that would shock his fellow workers. When information surfaces about past murders of other dancers with ties to the club, Moore decides to go undercover as a dancer to prove her employees innocent and to track down the real killer.

Despite the misgivings of Detective Mick Hagan, with whom she maintains an ongoing romance, and her attorney, Joachim Delacroix, Moore manages to infiltrate Gentlemen's Only. In the midst of her investigation, the wrong people misidentify her as a working investigative reporter. Moore suddenly finds herself fighting for her life as she attempts to thwart a well-planned plot to kill her.

In an interesting subplot, Moore discovers that an elderly woman whom she never met before suspects Moore of being her long lost granddaughter. While Moore deals with the realities of a life and death struggle, Mrs. Wetherly pops up occasionally to push her request for DNA samples to prove her theory. And in a startling series of events, Mrs. Wetherly plays an important and unexpected role.

Skillings sprinkles the narrative with occasional references to events from the previous title in the series, perhaps as a device to reinforce Moore's experience and determination, but just as likely to whet new reader's appetites to buy the previous book. For reasons unknown even to myself, I eventually began to find these little tidbits somewhat annoying. That, however, represents faint criticism for an attractive novel which features an equally attractive heroine in smart, sexy, self-reliant Rebecca Moore. In the final analysis, Skillings rewards her readers with a creative and offbeat plot, an appealing and convincing heroine, and a surprising but satisfying conclusion. I look forward to the next episode in the series.

Clint Hunter

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