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    THE CHELSEA GIRL MURDERS by Sparkle Hayter


    William Morrow, 2000

    When Robin Hudson's apartment building burns (thanks to a short circuit in a Jesus statue), she moves to the Chelsea Hotel where her friend Tamayo lives. Tamayo is out of town and Robin thinks things should be perfect--until people start pounding on her door. Tamayo has given her keys to more than one needy person. Soon, Robin is involved in saving a teen romance from the girl's arranged marriage, in a wonderful performance art sequence where a troup leaves clothes in a heap (signifying that someone has been beamed up to the mother ship), and in murder.

    THE CHELSEA GIRL MURDERS is billed as mystery and it certainly does have a strong mystery running through it. Robin is often more involved, however, in deciding whether she should continue a fling with a French scientist, feeding Rocky, the male half of the misguided teen lovers, and dealing with a friend of Tamayo's with a strange predisposition to seek revenge on her fellow women. Solving the murder takes a back seat--after all, that is the police's job. Unfortunately for Robin, all of these plot elements come together.

    Tamayo is a central character even though she makes an appearance only in the final pages of this novel. She has a strange assortment of friends, including Robin, but also including a sort of underground railroad for star-crossed lovers who are attempting to escape parents, husbands, or whoever, Maggie, the woman who plots perfect revenges, and a bartender named Stinky (who has a wife with no sense of smell). The characters, and the relationships between them, make THE CHELSEA GIRL MURDERS a satisfying read.

    Four Stars

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