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Private eye has knack for murder, mayhem


The Bad Kitty Lounge

By Michael Wiley

($24.99, Minotaur Books)

Chicago P.I. Joe Kozmarski is back in this page-turner of a mystery that moves swiftly past a stakeout to a burning car, followed by a messy suicide attempt and an encounter with a tattooed nun. That's just in the first 25 pages and two dead bodies.

The job seems to pay well: he's earning his keep with the first job when he's offered payola to not get involved in the investigation of a murder. All the action is enhanced by the manner in which Kozmarski narrates events--in a "Dragnet" tone, with attitude.

He's better than 9-1-1 for coming across the next body and the next thug. And you do wonder how this guy can kiss the carpet so many times and still have enough skull left to take another blow. You'd think he'd take a day off to recover. With some people paying him to do a job and others paying him not to do it, this would seem fair.

Minotaur Books seems to require car chases in their mysteries, and the author does this one well. With Joe behind the wheel, you're just relieved that he's the one driving the aging Skylark while the other guy has the fancy Mercedes.

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