Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Missing Ink - Karen E. Olson

The Missing Ink
A Tattoo Shop Mystery
Karen E. Olson


As a tattoo artist with ethics, Brett Kavanaugh knows better than to give a first-timer any ink without an appointment. Spur-of-the-moment walk-in tattoos rarely end well, especially in Las Vegas. So, when a woman who calls herself Kelly Masters wanders in and asks for a “devotion tattoo,” Brett makes an appointment and sends her on her way. A few days later, the police come around with a photo, looking for the woman. She never showed for her ink, and, despite being the sister of a cop, Brett feels that ink is personal and tells the cops nothing.

Then she sees the news. The woman, called a ‘runaway bride’ by the media types, is really Elise Lyon. She was engaged to the son of a billionaire real estate developer, but vanished just before the wedding. One other little wrinkle: the name of her fiancé is Chip, but she asked for ‘Matthew’ in her tattoo, just days before her wedding. That can’t be good. Then the cops find a body in the trunk of a car at the airport and believe they’ve found Elise. Instead, it’s Kelly Masters. That can’t be a coincidence.

This is the first in a new series, and it looks like a winner. Brett is an artist who supports herself by giving tattoos at her shop called The Painted Lady at a high-end hotel on the Strip. There’s no way I can resist liking a main character who makes casual reference to Spinal Tap. On the other end of the spectrum is Jeff Coleman, who runs a shop in a lousy neighborhood and has no problem inking walk-ins who are underage and drunk, as long as their money is good. Circumstances force the two to work together to try and unravel the mystery. Las Vegas is a great setting for a series, with its ever-transient population of tourists and the permanent residents who are no less colorful. The mystery has a couple of interesting twists and feels very realistic. I’m already looking forward to more.

Rating: 7 ½
July 2009
ISBN# 978-0-451-22746-1 (paperback)


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