With a new introduction
by the author
A woman is out to clear her cousin of murder charges after a blackmailer targeting the wealthy Carlisle family turns up dead.
K.C. Carlisle and her cousin Kenneth Carlisle both grew up rich. Kenneth is a corporate lawyer in an exclusive Northern California seaside community while K.C. has a storefront office on the seedy side of town. She takes whatever kind of case walks in her door.
But trouble appears one day when Francine Boutelle shows up pretending she wants to write an expose of the Carlisle family, including some dirt on K.C.'s late and highly respectable father. Francine has visited most of the family and is willing to keep the family secrets in exchange for cash.
When Kenneth is accused of murdering the blackmailer, K.C. is determined to prove his innocence, no matter where the trail of blood and deception leads.
"Strong, assured storytelling. A welcome trip back to classic detective stories, made fresh with a strong female voice, written at a time when women lawyers, as well as women crime novelists, were changing the way the world worked. If you're a Carolyn Hart fan and missed this the first time, rejoice! If you haven't yet discovered Carolyn Hart, oh, I envy the treats you have in store!"
—Cathy Pickens, author of the Southern Fried mysteries
"As a young teenager, I devoured hard-boiled private eye books along with titles by Christie, Tey, Rinehart, and Wentworth...and bought books by Erle Stanley Gardner, John Creasy, Donald Hamilton and, Jack Iams...
"Death By Surprise is as near that (hard-boiled) genre as I've ever come, K.C. Carlisle. the protagonist, is a young woman lawyer who has good reason never to quite trust anyone."
You can find these words in Carolyn Hart's introduction to this fine mystery novel. In terms of basic English it's a hoot because it's so much fun listening to Carolyn try out a new voice. Sometimes she's pure hardboiled:
"Joe Solomon looks like an overstuffed lizard. His skin is yellowish and uhealthy. He eyes are thick-lidded, giving him a Mongollian aspect."
But then she's upper-crust snarky:
"It was a debutante ball and a typical one. The girls all in white, which always amused me, danced the first dance with their fathers."
Death By Surprise is not only not only a fine mystery it's also in basic English--booth a hoot at times and a dark, compelling look at the shady business of gossip magazines."
ROBERT J. RANDISI
I admire this novel so much I place it second only to Bob's (as a western writer) masterpiece THE HAM REPORTER.
This has the lean power of Elmore Leonard's westerns. It has surprise, shock and heartbreak.
Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say about it:
Randisi's (Targett) short but intense western delivers exciting plot in spare, exacting prose. After the gunfighter known only as Lancaster turns down a $10,000 offer to kill a man (Lancaster provides protection but he's not a killer-for-hire), he is forced into a gunfight with his would-be target, with tragic results: Lancaster accidentally kills a six-year-old girl. Haunted by the memory of the girl's vivid blue eyes, Lancaster moves to another town, where he gives up the gun and becomes the town drunk. But fate steps in to change his life once again when he meets nine-year-old Alicia and her mother, who are on the run from Alicia's abusive father, rich and powerful Aaron Delaware. Alicia's mother is killed by one of Delaware's hired guns and Delaware arrives to claim his daughter, but Lancaster comes to the rescue and takes Alicia to the best person he can think of to care for her--the mother of the girl he killed. Readers will experience the pleasures found in old ""B"" Westerns: the simple (but not simplistic) moral opposition between good and evil and the inspiration of personal redemption. (Aug.)
ED LAUTER, ACCLAIMED CHARACTER ACTOR, DEAD AT 74
Ed Lauter starred in Last Hours Before Morning, a t.v. movie in 1975 in which he played as hotel detective. One of my favorite tv P.I. movies.
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