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    Review of POLISHED OFF by Barbara Colley (see her website)


    Kensington Books, February 2004

    When one of her clients discovers a skeleton in an ornamental pot, cleaning lady Charlotte LaRue tells herself that it's none of her business. But when Charlotte discovers that the body is the ex-boyfriend of one of her employees--a woman who is now her niece by marriage, she knows that she'll have to involve herself. Because it isn't long before her niece disappears, her nephew is charged with murder, and Charlotte herself is stuck taking care of their young child.

    A cleaning lady who solves mysteries is a cute concept and New Orleans, where the books are located, makes a charming setting. Author Barbara Colley (see more reviews of novels by Colley) is a smooth and professional writer who keeps the pages turning as she introduces a tangle of long-lost love, blackmail, and political corruption.

    Unfortunately, I found Charlotte LaRue to be an unlikable character. She is hypercritical of those around her, unsympathetic to her clients' concerns, and completely self-absorbed. Together with Colley's reliance on coincidence (how likely is it that Charlotte would be in one suspect's office just as he receives a suspicious call? How did the criminals arrange that Patsy end up with the pot? What are the odds of Charlotte's showing up just in time to see the bones? Would the first person connected with Tulane University that Charlotte thinks of really know the private life of her students and be able to tell Charlotte all about it?), and unexplained behavior (why, exactly, did Nadia do her disappearing act?) I found myself pulled out of the story.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 3/08/04

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