Friday, April 8, 2011

Sticky Fingers (Roxie Abruzzo Mystery #2) by Nancy Martin

Roxy Abruzzo stays one step ahead of trouble----especially now that her cash flow is less than stellar, and she's "doing favors" for her slippery uncle Carmine, one of the last old-time Mob bosses in Pittsburgh.
With her sidekick, Nooch, and her thieving pitbull, Rooney, Roxy hustles the mean streets collecting debts for Uncle Carmine and keeping his customers in line. With her daughter's college tuition to pay, Roxy can almost convince herself that the shady jobs are legal. But when Carmine's consigliere offers Roxy a contract to kidnap someone, that's a line she won’t cross.
Trouble is the kidnapping happens anyway, and when the victim turns up murdered, Roxy’s number one on the police hit parade. To protect herself, she investigates and soon learns the victim had a big secret---or two. Add a rock singer with a penchant for dinosaur bones and throw in a pesky paleontologist, plus an ex-nun with a mustache problem---not to mention a sexy chef with a taste for whatever Roxy dishes up---and you've got a caper full of quirky characters and laugh-out-loud mayhem. ( Synopsis from Barens &

I enjoyed this so much, I read it in one night.  The second book in the Roxie Abruzzo Mysteries ( after Our Lady of Immaculate Deception) was a page turner from beginning to end. Roxie has turned over a new leaf in her personal life but her professional life is a little flat. Her Uncle Carmine, a low  level Pittsburgh mob boss, has approached her through his geeky lawyer, Marvin, to kidnap an old classmate of Roxie's.  She is desperate for money, but not that much, and says no. She even goes to see her former nemesis, Clarice Crabtree, to warn her.  Clarice is still a mean girl however, and Roxie leaves without delivering the warning.  While she is at Clarice's house, Clarice disappears and Roxie is smack in the middle of another mess. She ends up identifying the body when Clarice is fished out of the river, and decides she needs to investigate to keep herself out of jail. Roxie is nothing if not tenacious and she keeps one step ahead of the police while figuring out whodunit.  The book has  stolen cars, bratty teenagers, a vengeful stalker with a spray paint can, and a large mastadon bone to peak your interest.

This book reminded me of the early Stephanie Plum books.  Set in a similar setting ( Pittsburgh vs Trenton), both featuring a single woman working in a man's profession ( salvage yard vs bail bond tracer), and having interesting side kicks ( Nooch vs Lula), the books are different enough that you can still enjoy them.  Roxie is tough and has a teenage daughter  Sage, who lives with Roxie's aunt.  Roxie has a love-hate relationship with Sage's father and lots of unresolved feelings about him which get more complicated as the book goes on. Roxie does sometimes behave in an unlikeable way but the character remains sympathetic.

I recommend reading the first book before this one because it sets up the history of Roxie's life and some of the other characters as well. You don't have to, but I think it will make this book more enjoyable. I also suggest you read Ms. Martin's other series- the Blackbird Sisters mysteries which also take place in PA and feature Michael Abruzzo, Roxie's cousin, as a recurring character.

Library note: Sticky Fingers is available in the NEW books section in the adult library. The first book is also available in  regular and large print as well as most of the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries.

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