Thursday, June 21, 2007

Death Rides The Surf - Nora Charles

Death Rides The Surf
A Kate Kennedy, Senior Sleuth Mystery
Nora Charles
Berkley Prime Crime


It’s fall in Palmetto Beach when retired widow Kate Kennedy’s granddaughter, Katherine, arrives for a visit. Kate’s worries about trouble at school (Katherine in a freshman at NYU) are instantly overshadowed when Katherine announces that she’s never going back to school. It seems that, during a trip to Acapulco over the summer, Katherine met Jon Michael Tyler, a surfer. Now Katherine fancies herself in love and made the trip to Palmetto Beach simply to be near him.

Aside from being part of a group that calls themselves The Four Boardsmen of the Apocalypse, Jon Michael has little else to recommend him. He has a part-time job at a local “gentleman’s club,” and lives with his grandmother, who gives him an allowance. But that’s not the worst of it for Kate, and her best friend, Marlene. Last summer in Acapulco, the surf buddies were suspects in the disappearance of another young woman. While the Mexican authorities did little to solve the case, the girl’s mother is determined to shadow the group until she finds out exactly what happened to her daughter.

When fishermen find Jon Michael’s body floating near a dock, police initially conclude that he was the victim of a shark attack. Further evidence, however, points to homicide. To make a bad situation worse, Kate saw Katherine arguing with Jon Michael just before he rode his last wave. And Katherine’s disapproving mother was in town for a suspiciously timed meeting. It doesn’t take long before detective Nick Carbone, Kate’s maybe-suitor, is on the case, and looking right at Katherine.

Of all the books I’ve read in this series, this was probably the most intricate, plot-wise. While there are some dark aspects to the story, the overall mood is kept light, as befits a cozy. As usual, Marlene, Kate’s lifelong best friend, makes sure she’s right in the thick of things. Kate is a great character. While she obviously doesn’t want to believe that her granddaughter would commit murder, she’s realistic enough not to whitewash Katherine’s motives, even in her own mind. The southern Florida atmosphere and an interesting mix of supporting characters and suspects, add to the overall charm.

Rating: 7
June 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21627-9 (paperback)


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