Volume 12, Issue 38 ~ September 16-22, 2004
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Between the Covers

Marcia Talley (above) and with husband Barry (left).
Marcia Talley’s In Death’s Shadow
This crime scene is truly tense, precisely because it happens right on calm Annapolitan streets.
Reviewed by Sara E. Leeland

Instead of the crime-ridden streets of Baltimore, Chicago or LA, take a breath of crime Annapolis-style, where State Circle and a husband who’s a professor at the Naval Academy are all part of detective Hannah Ives’ life. Drugs don’t fuel the action in this book. Control over life-insurance policies, sold and re-sold with enormous gains, instigates the jump beyond white-collar law breaking to … murder.

Ives enjoys making potato salad; she also serves up humorous quips about everything from Thomas Jefferson’s monumental shoes (dry Nikis) to two-week sailing-race widows (“we send them off with plastic bags full of Snickers bars and wait for a call on our cell phones”). But be warned: This crime scene is truly tense, precisely because it happens on calm Annapolitan streets. Turns out that elders and terminal patients who’ve sold their insurance may be dying before their time so that impatient investors can be paid.

Viaticals, as the sales are called, are a reality. Like Hannah Ives, you can put that term in your computer brouser and come up with everything from offers for your insurance to reports on frauds. Even if it chances that you and detective Ives don’t make the best of book-buddies, you’ll finish this book up to speed on one of the newest financial developments to hit the senior-citizen community. Talley has done her homework.

Like her detective, Talley (www.marciatelley.com) was the daughter of a military officer, lives in Annapolis where’s she’s married to a member of the Naval Academy faculty, abandoned the commute of a Washington, D.C. job for work in Annapolis and has both lived and traveled on a 37-foot sailboat. Also, like her heroine, she’s a breast cancer survivor.

Her first in the Hannah Ives series, Sing It to Her Bones, won a Malice Domestic grant and was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Unbreathed Memories came second and Occasion of Revenge third. In a signal of market success, Talley is now published by Avon Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.

Women-oriented mystery is beginning to replace romance in mass market books, say publishers’ Internet reports. What does this signify? Perhaps that the revolution against niceness is taking a new step. Any good detective has to have some aggressiveness as part of her persona. That’s important here, lest references to shoe-brands and the assets of luxury baths leave the reader feeling the book is just too, too upscale Annapolitan.

Meet the author at Barnes and Noble, Annapolis Harbour Center: See 8 Days a Week, Thursday, Sept. 16.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.