by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Hell on Wheels, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL.
A game of Murder Ball becomes all too real in the ninth mystery featuring paralegal Odelia Patience Grey and her absolutely perfect husband, Greg Stevens. While Greg is an avid athlete who enthusiastically competes in a wheelchair basketball league, as a paraplegic he is not physically impaired enough to qualify for the quad rugby and Paralympic sport where quadriplegics are so ruthless and fearless that they have earned the appropriate nickname, Murder Ball. At the Best of the West tournament in San Diego, the aggression spreads off the court when Greg and Odelia run into Peter Tanaka, a player for the Ventura Vipers, who aggressively hits on Odelia in front of Greg, brutally attacks the Laguna Lunatics during play, and finally taunts Rocky Henderson into attacking him in the middle of the game. When Peter doesn’t outlast the final whistle, and the reason for his death turns out to be a surprise, Odelia is once again pulled into an investigation and proves that she deserves her nickname “Corpse Magnet.”
Considering that Odelia attracts bodies like a sofa collects cat hair, her family and friends are mostly resigned to the fact that she will be involved in pursuing the truth behind Peter’s murder. When a string of deaths labeled as suicide follow, Odelia’s commitment is sealed. What is unexpected is that due to a self-destructive bar fight that has him recuperating at home, Odelia’s selfish and arrogant boss Mike Steele becomes stir-crazy and acts like a micromanaging Nero Wolfe with both their work and her investigation. When the founding partner comes to Odelia with an investigation request in a matter that unexpectedly involves a lethal and questionable ally from her past, Odelia must rely on her friends for information, a little venting for her exasperation with Steele, and companionship on a stakeout.
What is so enjoyable about this series is how these realistic and fully developed characters have become enmeshed in Odelia’s life. Odelia’s mother writes a delightfully-titled blog called “An Old Broad’s Perspective,” her best friend worries for Odelia’s safety even as she resignedly accompanies her to question a witness, and Steele shows glimpses of humanity when he isn’t demanding constant attention. Odelia’s confidence has continually grown while her humor remains constant, and she has the intelligence to juggle multiple predicaments. Perhaps most refreshing is that while the series began with frequent mentions of Odelia being plus-sized, by now it is barely referenced, and then only by someone who deservedly and quickly meets his end. A strong heroine, several plots that are skillfully and satisfyingly concluded, and very witty writing all shine in this reliably fun and thoroughly entertaining series.
To enter to win a copy of Hell on Wheels, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Hell,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 6, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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