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Flamethrower by Maggie Estep
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Ruby Murphy owns a horse she doesn’t ride, a 1974 robin’s-egg-blue Mustang she seldom drives, preferring instead to ride her bicycle. She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with four cats (she calls them “furry sociopaths”), one named Stinky, and Ed, an FBI agent turned horse trainer. Ruby’s current pleasure reading is Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants. As Flamethrower opens, she is employed at the Coney Island Museum. Ruby Murphy is not your typical amateur sleuth; she is, however, an altogether captivating character.

Within the book’s first ten pages, Ruby makes a bizarre discovery inside an aquarium in the office of the psychiatrist she’s seeing for post-traumatic stress disorder. Suddenly patient and shrink do a bit of role reversal -- and readers are taken down some strange paths as Ruby seeks answers for Dr. Jody. Meanwhile, Ruby has other things on her mind: trouble at work, trouble with Ed, and trouble with someone who may or may not be following her.

Flamethrower is a bit edgier and has more coarse language (but not an excessive amount) than most of the mysteries I read. But its unsettling, often gloomy atmosphere is interrupted with moments of dark comedy and those elements combine to make the experience of reading Flamethrower quite pleasurable. Ruby is on the fringes of society, possibly on the fringes of sanity, but she’s sassy, smart and brave. Odd though the story may be, it kept me hooked ‘til the end. I believe readers who appreciate something different – and like a bit of adventure -- will love the story and the more-than-eccentric characters!

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, Dec. 2006-Jan. 2007 Issue. ( )
  NewsieQ | Dec 26, 2006 |
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Sleuth Ruby Murphy finds her life turned upside down when she is accused of infidelity by her horse trainer boyfriend and is fired from the Coney Island Museum, all the while investigating the source of a severed human leg, being stalked by a mysterious stranger, and trying not to end up dead herself.… (more)

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