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Los Angeles denizen and vintage clothing collector Cece Caruso writes biographies of mystery authors. While working on a life of Erle Stanley Gardner, she discovers an old letter that involves her in a 1950s murder case-for which a man may have been wrongfully incarcerated. Cece's adventures take her from prison to a Montecito mansion, from wronged prisoner to lustfully attractive house restorer. When murder strikes a woman closely connected to the case, Cece's search becomes desperate. This lively and slightly idiosyncratic heroine, the sometimes exotic California surrounds, and the complicated plotting make this series debut essential. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This is a book that would make Perry Mason proud. --Mystery Scene"
All former Jersey beauty queen Cece Caruso really wants to do is finish her biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, "creator of the brilliant, unflappable Perry Mason," but in art journalist Kandel's entertaining, often witty debut, she must contend with a few distractions, including murder. Once he became a famous writer, Gardner for a while took on "hopeless cases." In the Gardner archives, Cece stumbles across a misfiled 1958 letter from Joseph Albacco, who had recently been convicted and imprisoned for murdering his wife. Claiming his innocence, Albacco begged Gardner to intervene and track down the real killer, but the author never did. Intrigued, Cece is determined to find the truth in a scenario complicated enough to challenge Perry Mason himself, and soon finds herself involved in a fresh murder linked to the long-ago crime. Meanwhile, she worries about her daughter Annie, whose marriage seems about to implode, and never misses a chance to add to her sizeable collection of vintage clothing. Though the denouement is a bit over-the-top, readers should give Cece a warm welcome to the legion of perky female sleuths. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (June 1) Forecast: The words "Perry Mason" in the title are sure to attract older browsers who fondly remember the popular TV show starring Raymond Burr, not to mention Gardner fans. Blurbs from Carolyn Hart and Rochelle Krich won't hurt. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Cece Caruso is an entertaining amateur detective who writes biographies of mystery writers for a living, collects vintage clothing, and lives in a West Hollywood bungalow. Thirty-nine and divorced, she has a 21-year-old daughter who works on a "Star Trek clone" TV show, as well as two brothers ("both cops") and a quirky mother living nearby. Her current project is a biography of Earl Stanley Gardner, who besides being a writer was a Southern California lawyer specializing in strangely marginal cases. In the process of going through some of his documents, Cece discovers what appears to be an unsolved case that has left an innocent man in jail since the 1950s. While investigating this case and researching her book, she travels the Southern California highways. One of Kandel's strengths is her ability to bring back to life the lost towns, social scenes, and landscapes of the past. Cece's knowledge of the area's social and economic history turns out to be a key in unraveling the long-dormant mystery. The protagonist is bright, funny, and hip, with upscale but unconventional tastes and a literary talent. This is an author and a heroine who will appeal to fans of Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich, and to those who enjoy the California settings and lighter aspects of Sue Grafton's mysteries.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.