(Eighth in the Carlotta Carlyle series)

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 0312380496

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Carlotta thinks she's simply doing a friend a favor when she agrees to burglarproof an elderly recluse's apartment. But 24 hours later, when the woman turns up dead in her ransacked home, Carlotta finds herself with entertainment moguls and real estate magnates breathing down her neck, as well as a lot of questions. What is a suddenly vacant apartment worth to a greedy developer? What article of value was the woman so eager to protect? Why is there such interest in her will? Is there a connection between the lady's death and a long-forgotten robbery? Carlotta needs to find the answers in a hurry, before an innocent woman is convicted, before the arsonist who set fire to her house strikes again.



Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1999

Boston shamus, guitar player and sometime taxi-driver Carlotta Carlyle returns to center stage this month in a tricky new novel that should further cement her place in the pantheon of contemporary P.I.s. When the 6-foot-1-inch redhead volunteers to look into threats against an elderly woman who refuses to leave her apartment to make way for a commercial project in the declining Fenway Park neighborhood, she manages to open a wound that has been festering for several decades.

The woman has a past that includes a long-ago marriage to a wealthy art collector. When the woman dies under suspicious circumstances, Carlyle finds herself caught up in a scenario that ultimately involves serial arson, rapacious developers and historic religious manuscripts.

What Linda Barnes does so-well in this series is surround her protagonist with an interesting community of characters, who clearly have lives of their own apart from the demands of the storyline. As a post-'60s feminist and student of Jewish culture, Carlyle is far more politically minded than most of her brethren in the profession, and culturally diverse Boston provides a perfect cauldron for the stews in which she invests her energy.

Library Journal

Barnes continues her string of intelligent mysteries in this eighth outing with former policewoman turned P.I. Carlotta Carlyle. The murder of an older woman with a hidden past challenges Carlotta like none other as this case brings potential harm to herself and her loved ones. The victim left behind a rare old Jewish manuscript that Carlotta has to find before it ends up in the hands of someone who wants it solely for profit. Carlotta remains a tough, brassy businesswoman with a soft side, especially for her surrogate teenage sister, her rebellious roommate, and her former love, Mooney. At times, these characters threaten to overshadow the main story, but even when Barnes veers from one issue to another, the plot holds up. Unlike most mysteries, once the antagonist is uncovered, Barnes proceeds to write a smart finish. Recommended for all mystery collections.


Six-foot redheaded Boston PI Carlotta Carlyle returns in a sizzler of a crime story. Carlotta's volleyball buddy, Gwen Taymore, works as a home health aide to aging but feisty Valentine Phipps. Lately, Valentine, who lives in one of the few remaining rent-controlled apartments in Boston's Fenway district, has been the victim of a series of strange accidents. She thinks the accidents are the doings of her landlord, who wants her out so he can sell the building. Gwen hires Carlotta as a security consultant to help allay the old woman's fears. Two days later, Valentine is dead, and Gwen has been arrested for her murder. Carlotta feels compelled to defend Gwen and find Valentine's real killer. The intrepid Ms. Carlyle may not be as well known as some of her fellow female sleuths, but she's a breath of fresh air in a subgenre that has begun to develop its own cliches. Three cheers for this solidly entertaining series, and three cheers for the savvy and sassy Carlotta.
— Emily Melton