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How much do you owe a past love? Ever wonder about it? Private Detective Ron Shade does when he bumps into his former lover, Paula Kittermann, late one lonely December night in a hotel bar. Paula had once been a major factor in Shade s life, but that was a very long time ago. Against his better judgement, he lets her back in, but when she s gone, without so much as a goodbye kiss, leaving him once with only bittersweet memories of what might have been. Then Paula turns up dead, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run accident. Though shocked, Shade moves on with his life until Paula s young cousin, Laurie, shows up in Chicago, asking him to look into the matter. Shade s investigation takes a walk on the seedy side, and begins to attract the attention of some very powerful enemies. But whenever Shade gets close to the truth, somebody seems to end up dead, and he suddenly finds himself the prime suspect in a homicide investigation. Working to clear himself and find out who killed Paula, Shade goes up against some redoubtable foes who will stop at nothing to ensure his search for the truth won t be completed.
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Chicago kickboxer Ron Shade's knight errantry sometimes misfires in his second appearance (after 2002's A Killing Frost) from Illinois police sergeant Black, but the throwback PI goes the distance. Shade's work, which includes stints providing security for a downtown hotel and its two bars, doesn't interfere with his ambitious goal of winning the heavyweight kickboxing championship. But his proclivity for rescue work, ranging from an old girlfriend to a stray kitten to a Russian boxer in thrall to a gangster, throws a serious monkey wrench into his plans. Shade's old high school flame, Paula Kittermann, re-enters his life in dramatic fashion, only to become a hit-and-run victim soon after. When Paula's beautiful cousin, whom he remembers as a freckle-faced youngster, asks his help in finding the driver, Shade can hardly refuse. While the supporting cast, among them a crusty trainer, a cop buddy and a cop enemy, is fairly standard issue, Shade himself is an attractive blend of tough guy and sentimental softie. One gets the feeling that Shade may never take top honors in the ring, but he'll always be an entertaining fighter as long as he answers the bell.
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Readers who applauded the debut of Black's Ron Shade series--A Killing Frost (2002)--will find their faith in the new writer justified. This time kickboxing detective Shade, working security at a hotel to pick up a few extra bucks, runs into former flame Paula Kitterman, who is being pushed around by a man. After saving Paula from the creep, whom she claims not to know, Ron invites her back to his place, where passions are rekindled. The next day Paula turns up dead, supposedly the victim of a hit-and-run accident. When Paula's cousin Laurie comes to Chicago to find out what happened, she hires Ron to investigate--and the two soon become romantically involved. As Ron trains for a big fight and helps Laurie search for clues to Paula's death, another body turns up--and Ron becomes the prime suspect. Fans of V. I. Warshawski will appreciate both the hard-boiled yet soft-hearted Shade and the way in which former cop Black captures the grit of Chicago's streets. Jenny McLarin
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