Book Review: Secondhand Smoke by Karen E. Olson

Awakened by smoke in the early morning hours, struggling New Haven newspaper reporter Annie Seymour finds herself standing out in the street watching a favorite local restaurant burn down. The discovery of a body thought to be the owner, Sal Amato inside the ruined building quickly turns a possible arson into a murder investigation. When the body is later identified as the hostess LeeAnn Hayward with an ongoing history of domestic violence with Mickey the head chef, naturally he becomes the prime suspect. Yet things are nowhere near that cut and dried when Annie finds Sal shortly after he was shot, presumably a mob hit.

With possible mob connections, the FBI becomes involved in the investigation and mounting evidence begins implicating Annie’s father as the murderer. Annie joins forces with her ex-boyfriend Vinny DeLucia in an effort to clear her father’s name. It’s a daunting task given they still have feelings for one another yet Vinny is engaged to a nice local girl which puts Annie in an awkward position with the close-knit Italian community as does being warned about what appears in print by the supposedly retired mafia godfather.

This is the second romp for our cynical reporter as she comes to terms with her place in the community she has grown up in, her irritating immediate neighbors, chickens and the possibility that her father is a killer in this witty “who-done-it.” Humor, plenty of motives and strong character development make this a fast, fun read.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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