Deep Pockets (St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries)

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9780312997281: Deep Pockets (St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries)

Harvard professor Wilson Chaney's position in life is hanging by a thread; his marriage, his reputation, not to mention his tenure at Harvard are in the hands of a blackmailer, someone threatening to sell Chaney's secrets at very high prices. His enviable life could disappear into thin air should the blackmailer's evidence - proof of his affair with a young student - become public knowledge.

So he hires Boston private investigator Carlotta Carlyle to track down the blackmailer and put a stop to the scheme. Can she do it? Of course, but should she? The professor doesn't inspire much loyalty-after all, he did commit adultery with one of his own students-but Carlotta agrees. Digging into the case, nosing around Harvard and the possible suspects from the rest of Dr. Chaney's life, she uncovers a suspicious death as part of the backstory to Dr. Chaney's situation. Suddenly Carlotta's sixth sense is telling her the case might be more complicated-and more dangerous-than it first seemed.

Fresh from the success of The Big Dig, the masterful Linda Barnes delivers a bold and engaging novel infused with the deft touch and intricate suspense that have become her trademarks.

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Review:

Like Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton, and Sara Paretsky, Linda Barnes deserves credit for usurping the male dominance over American private-eye fiction in the 1970s and '80s. Her six-foot-tall, redheaded Boston snoop and part-time cabbie, Carlotta Carlyle, started out (in 1987's A Trouble of Fools) as a savvy, self-reliant former cop whose potential to become Sam Spade in a skirt was mitigated by her emotional sensitivity and resistance to brash risk-taking. More than two decades later, Carlotta shows herself to be as compelling and credible as ever--if a bit wiser--in Deep Pockets.

"Look, I made a mistake. I slept with a student," concedes Wilson Chaney, an African-American professor at Harvard Medical School, as he hires Carlotta to find and foil the person responsible for blackmailing him with love letters he'd sent to Denali Brinkman, a startlingly attractive freshman rowing champ who evidently committed both suicide and arson at a Charles River boathouse. Carlotta thinks to curtail this squeeze by unearthing information damaging to the extortionist. But when the suspect turns out to be another of Denali's boyfriends, 30-year-old ex-con Benjy Dowling, and then Dowling perishes in a hit-and-run involving Chaney's van, the PI must reassess both her tactics and assumptions about this investigation. Is her client, already afraid of losing his job over an ill-advised intimacy, now being framed for murder, perhaps by another one of Dowling's blackmail targets? Could Chaney's troubles be traced to a rival or enemy at Harvard? Or to his wealthy, pregnancy-obsessed wife? Or maybe to his cutting-edge research into drug treatments for attention-deficit disorder? As Carlotta confronts the case's multiplying puzzles, she wonders whether there are answers to be found in Denali's sketchy past--answers that could not only clear Chaney, but protect this gutsy gumheel from an increasingly dangerous adversary.

Carlotta's distractions in Deep Pockets are numerous, from her ebbing relationship with a black FBI agent to her concern over the half-dressing habits of her fast-developing "little sister," Paolina. Yet she rarely misses a clue--except, of course, when it adds to the story's tensions. Barnes fails to fully explain a couple of dramatic plot turns in this 10th Carlotta Carlyle novel (after The Big Dig), and you needn't boast a Harvard sheepskin to figure out her tale's principal twist well in advance of its conclusion; however, those faults are outweighed by one's delight in seeing the pertinacious Ms Carlyle again get her man without entirely losing her femininity. --J. Kingston Pierce

From the Back Cover:

From The Ivory Tower...
Harvard professor Wilson Chaney has a secret and somebody knows it. His adulterous affair with a freshman ended just weeks before she wound up dead. The sole trace of his infatuation is a stack of missing love letters-and they've fallen into the wrong hands...

To The Grave.
Carlotta Carlyle takes the case to find his blackmailer and retrieve the letters. Six-foot-one and red-haired, this private eye doesn't blink when the going gets tough. But can she trust her ultra-secretive client when a suspect turns up dead?

One False Move And This Prof's Headed For A Fall.
Now Carlotta must zero in on Boston's mean streets and talk her way into Harvard's inner sanctums, uncovering in the process just how intertwined the two are-and just how deadly the stakes can be...

"No question: Carlotta's tenth case is her best to date. Edgar nominators, take note."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Carlotta Carlyle combines the sensitivity of Robert Parker's Spenser with the stubbornness of Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, and she's rapidly carving out a place of her own." -Chicago Tribune

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