Monday, August 22, 2005

THE VICARIOUS LIVER by Beth Amos (Booklocker)

For those of you who do not know (or remember) Beth Amos, perhaps you should take note. Ms. Amos had written several novels for HarperCollins back in the 1990's, including EYES OF NIGHT and COLD WHITE FURY (which happened to be a favorite of my sister's.)

Her latest work--and arguably her best--was released POD-style through Booklocker: THE VIACRIOUS LIVER: A MATTIE WINSTON MYSTERY. And let me say this book is not only a page-turner, it's a giggle-generator.

One of my greatest criticisms of the mystery genre is that, while most of the time the stories are character-driven, they are not driven well. Why can't a good mystery also be a snappy one, a funny one, a hilarious one?

Well, Beth Amos must have been reading my mind.

LIVER tells the story of Mattie Winston, a former RN who moves up (or down, as it turns out) to a job as a coroner in a small town.

"It’s a bit of a mental adjustment. After twelve years of working to save people’s lives, I now remove their innards after they’re dead and weigh them on a scale like fruit."

What makes Mattie's job worse, though, is that her first case ends up being directly tied to her: the death of a woman (and former co-worker) who happened to be having an affair with her (near) ex-husband. Sound like a typical mystery plot? Maybe. What makes the difference here is the way the story is told and the cast of characters Mattie uses to decipher the truth about the crime, including a computer hacker who fancies himself a superhero and a hairdresser who works out of the cellar of a funeral home.

Mattie has a penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time--but she is a classic character and classic heroine, and one you will want to see again. We can only hope this will be a series that will find great success.

THE VICARIOUS LIVER is a perfect beach-read for that final summer trip (or for when you're stuck in traffic on the return home.) Grab it for under $11.00 on Amazon.