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    Review of THE IRON GIRL by Ellen Hart (see her website)


    St. Martin's Minotaur, August 2005

    The murder had taken place years before. Two people were brutally killed, a young boy traumatized, and the surviving family members left in their disintegrating home, backbiting and squabbling, with a line down the middle of the house to make sure neither trespassed on the other. Jane Lawless's lover, Christine, had been involved in a real estate deal that was supposed to sell that house, but Christine's cancer and the murder put the real estate deal on permanent hold. Now, though, Jane is starting to see hints of that murder everywhere.

    Jane has left boxes of Christine's stuff, uninspected, but she now feels brave enough to face them. Until one of the first things she finds is a gun that matches one used in the murders. Then, a beautiful woman who looks exactly like a younger version of Christine shows up and Jane has to deal with her pain and loss all over again. Third, an old friend brings Jane a box holding a gift that, according to the friend, Christine meant for Jane to have. It's one of the pieces of art stolen from the murder site--part of the evidence the police used to convict the gardener--accused of being caught stealing.

    Jane is sure the courts convicted the wrong man. Together with her friend Cordelia, and her new friend (and Christine look-alike) Greta, Jane decides to investigate.

    Author Ellen Hart (see more reviews of novels by Hart) is a talented wordsmith and creates interesting characters. The gothic house, with its two surviving and unsavory siblings is a classic. Jane, with her love life torn between her new affection for Kenzie and her conflicted feelings toward Christine/Greta is also interesting and Cordelia is a pure scream.

    I would have liked to see the mystery rely less on coincidence and luck, and more on the actual investigation. The few clues that Jane actually turns up seem to happen despite Jane's efforts rather than because of them. I was also left feeling that there was something missing at the end. THE IRON GIRL was hard to put down, had its moments of thrill and chill, and seems very authentic about the lesbian lifestyle that Jane, Christine, Cordelia, and Kenzie have adapted. This isn't a perfect mystery, but it is enjoyable.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/09/05

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