Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson read by Tanya Eby

This second in the “Allison Campbell Mystery” series is disappointing. It would have been nice to come back to a different kind of detecting woman — a woman whose job it is to detect — and re-configure — a social image. The image of a person is of course a mysterious thing – what makes a person resonate success or wealth or credibility? How is it possible to create or re-create such an image? So promised Killer Image, the first Allison Campbell installment, where we were introduced to a divorced, independent and slightly peculiar professional who is paid to perform character make-overs. The subject of the first job was a politician’s unruly daughter. Yes she was also accused of a crime. Yes, there were suspects: twisted and corrupt. Yet somehow, Allison Campbell of Main Line Philadelphia resonated singularity. She wasn’t a detective. She wasn’t a cop. She wasn’t a little old lady.

The second installment is indeed disappointing because it is confused, confusing and formulaic. There are clients. They are suspicious. Their families are suspicious. There is a search for the truth, then a search for lost clients, against an over-resonance of overchewed, overused relationship problems. Really. You have an ex? You still love him? You’re not sure? Your ex-mother in law is sleeping with your business partner? Why am I reading this book?

At this point the suspense is effectively over. And the book might as well be.

Making It Right by Catherine Bybee read by Cristina Panfilio

After much too much silly shitty giggly girly fiction, this clever, sharp, unpredictable novel about a small town female Sheriff who meets a man at a Quantico training course is a delight. The dialogue between the coupling law enforcement agents is witty, original, delicious; the supporting characters are curious and unpredictable, the clean story line is etched out like an Ed McBain procedural. Spare, lean action. Fast, frank language. No coincidences.

The Ghost & Mrs. Fletcher

An old, sick and unhappy man tells Jessica to write down his last wishes: sell the house, give the proceeds to my grandson. She formalizes it, he dies, the real estate agent gets to work. Jessica arranges for the hundreds of old books in the house to be sold at a library charity sale. A possible female ghost brings in a woman who ‘smudges’ the house and films the ritual for her TV reality show… Of course, a murder is announced, but afterwards and without much ado. The old man did not die a ‘natural’ death, he was suffocated in his hospital room by something with green threads…

Jessica snoops and pries and busy-bodies her way into the house and its history. While searching for old Hobart pot-boilers in the basement with her antiquarian bookshop owner friend, she finds bones, a body, and another murder still.

Reliable and punchy.