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Reduced Circumstances by Vincent H. O'Neil
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Reduced Circumstances

by Vincent H. O'Neil

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American Library Association review of Reduced Circumstances (May 15, 2007)

Once upon a time, Frank Cole was the happily married owner of a thriving software firm. But when business and marriage both went under, he landed in the Florida panhandle town of Exile, cobbling together a living as a fact-checker for lawyers and a dispatcher for the Midnight Taxi Service. One night a driver picks up a fare from a local fleabag motel just before the cops bust a salesman with a truck full of dope. Frank puts his own detective skills to work and learns that the fare was a petty con man whose parents were sophisticated financial swindlers. Soon Frank is sucked into the vortex of a case in which his own life may be at risk. The second Frank Cole mystery builds on the series' critically acclaimed debut, Murder in Exile (2006), with a credible plot, a sympathetic protagonist, and an array of eccentric secondary characters. This has the earmarks of a series that could be around a long time; better get in on the fun at the beginning. --Wes Lukowsky ( )
  vincent287 | Sep 4, 2008 |
Frank Cole is the new night dispatcher for the Midnight Taxi Service in Florida’s Panhandle. When taxi driver Billy Lee picks up a fare at the Seaview Motel, neither Frank nor the other drivers anticipate the interest what follows. It seems everybody and his brother – and sister – wants to know what happened to Dennis Taylor (or is it Dennis Sharp?) after he left the taxi. And did young Dennis have anything to do with the drug bust at the Seaview about the time he left?

In addition to his duties as night dispatcher, Frank finds time to help the Atlanta private eye who’s looking for Dennis at the request of his parents – both in prison as it turns out. With his network of helpers – an aging ace reference librarian and a retired navy man with a computer-like brain – Frank tries to outsmart the big boys – the PI and the inept cops.

Frank Cole is a great character – a Yankee in Florida after his Connecticut software development company goes belly up, leaving his personal finances in tatters. Readers who are persnickety about language and grammar will find a kindred spirit in Vincent H. O’Neil. His writing is just about flawless. That’s not to say Reduced Circumstances is perfect. In one section in the last half of the book, the author almost lost me in pages and pages of internal dialogue that drove me to skim several paragraphs. I don’t need wall-to-wall action but any action would have been welcome.

However, I’m willing to forgive and forget in the case of such a wonderful writer/storyteller. Reduced Circumstances is still a good mystery – with positives far outweighing any negatives. I’ve read the latest book (review later) in this series and it’s much more action-packed.

By Diana. First published in the Cozy Library June 12, 2008. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jul 10, 2008 |
August 2007 ( )
  readabook66 | Aug 25, 2007 |
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We were swabbing out the taxis when I first learned about the kid.
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"I gotta hand it to you, Frank. Only been in town a year, and already you've got two girlfriends. One of them may be underage, and a murderer, but it's still impressive."
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Book description
The sequel to the award-winning Murder in Exile starts out in high gear:

Fact-checker Frank Cole is moonlighting as the evening dispatcher for the Midnight Taxi Service. It is a quiet Spring Break in the Florida panhandle until a nervous teenaged boy flags down a Midnight cab near a parking lot full of flashing police lights. The next evening, suspicious strangers start appearing at the taxi stand, asking Frank about the boy and where he was headed.

The ride speeds up after that. The driver who took the fare runs off, the teenager is revealed as a man with a past, his beautiful blonde girlfriend joins the chase, and a dead body turns up holding a Midnight Taxi Service roadmap. Once again, Frank Cole has to answer questions about a dead guy he never even met in life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312369662, Hardcover)

Frank Cole, bankrupt businessman and sometime sleuth, has taken a second job with the Midnight Taxi Service in Exile, Florida, when one of the drivers tells him about a teenage boy who hailed his cab near the site of a police drug bust the night before. It doesn't sound like much at first, but the driver disappears just as people start coming by the cabstand inquiring after the mysterious passenger.
First there is the private investigator from Atlanta, who seems genuine but knows the kid by the wrong name. Then there are the two bounty hunters from Mobile, who have the right name but are wrong in every other way. And finally there is the kid's girlfriend, a blond drifter who never leaves a fingerprint.
As if that all weren't enough to ruin Frank's night job, a body turns up holding a Midnight Taxi Service roadmap. And once again Frank Cole has to find the answers without even knowing the questions.  
In this entertaining sequel to his first novel, Vincent H. O'Neil takes his readers on a dark Florida taxi ride with his likable sleuth.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Moonlighting as a dispatcher for the Midnight Taxi Service, fact-checker Frank Cole becomes entangled in a bizarre case involving a mysterious and frightened teenage boy, suspicious strangers, the disappearance of one of the cab drivers, and murder.

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