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    Review of SLIGHTLY ABRIDGED by Ellen Pall (see her website)


    St. Martin's Minotaur, April 2003

    Juliet Bodine is stuck, blocked in writing her latest regency romance, so she welcomes the appearance of a fan. Ada Caffney is an energetic 84-year old who has lived life to the fullest, and who has discovered a segment of manuscript that might, possibly, be worth thousands. Ada drops into Juliet's life like a bombshell dragging Juliet away from her writing to poetry slams, Broadway shows, and tours of the Empire State Building (anything to get away from writing that dreadful romance). When Ada is found dead, the manuscript missing, Juliet becomes a suspect. With the help of illusive love interest and police detective Murray Landis, Juliet sets out to investigate.

    Author Ellen Pall (see more reviews of novels by Pall) has written a fun mystery interweaving Juliet's love interests, the painful plotting of Juliet's book (which starts out sounding like a stinker but begins to pick up when Juliet's attraction toward Murray takes on new fire), and the unveiling of more and more motives to see Ada dead all work to keep the reader glued to the novel. Pall uses author intrusion to set the stage for later developments and as chapter hooks, teasing the reader with promises of more to come. It's a little disconcerting at first, but Pall uses it lightly enough to make it an enjoyable style choice.

    SLIGHTLY ABRIDGED did start a little slowly and the story really gathers steam when Ada goes missing, Murray comes back into the scene, and Juliet is able to escape her morose plotting and turn her energies toward detecting. You'll end up rooting for Juliet to dump the too-perfect book dealer, hook up with Murray, and overcome the killer that only a writer can find.

    Very nice.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/20/03

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