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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bone Up on Puccini and Have an Italian Crime Romp

Book title: Murder in Hand
Series: Alicia Allen Investigates Book Three
Author: Celia Conrad
Website: http://www.aliciaalleninvestigates.com
Where to buy the book: Amazon http://tinyurl.com/njd3bwl
Genre: Crime fiction
ISBN: 9780954623340 (Paperback) Also available in all ebook formats
Publisher: Barcham Books

Reviewed by  Marlan Warren originally for
“Dancing in the Experience Lane” Open Salon Blog


"Murder in Hand": Italian Probate, Puccini, & Dead Lawyers


Lawyers aren't the most popular people, Miss Allen..."

—Murder in Hand

     In her cerebral legal mystery, Murder in Hand, Celia Conrad pulls her feisty London Probate/Estate lawyer heroine, Alicia Allen, deeper into the quagmire world of unscrupulous attorneys, the unfortunates who work with them and their unsuspecting innocent victims. In this third book of the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Conrad hits her stride as a bona fide puzzle master in the tradition of Agatha Christie. The easy-to-follow plot line keeps readers guessing and the pages turning, while great pleasures lie in Conrad's refusal--or perhaps inability--to write for the lowest common denominator of brain power. Instead she aims for the highest. 

     If you want to roll with Alicia Allen...better bring your A-Game (and some knowledge of the Classics wouldn't hurt).

      Murder in Hand could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if readers don't mind not knowing the history between the justice-loving attorney Alicia Allen and her adoring cohort Alex Waterford; her investigator friends, Jo and Will; or her cultured elderly neighbor Dorothy. 

     The story takes off when Alicia's Italian American client Fabio confides that he believes someone is trying to kill him. Fabio's family ties span New York, England and Italy/Sicily; and when his sister is killed in the midst of doing some family estate research in Italy, Alicia embarks on a quest to find the killer. 

"I can't leave you alone for a few hours without somebody else being murdered."—Murder in Hand 

      As in Books 1 and 2 (A Model Murder and Wilful Murder), Alicia leaps where proverbial angels fear to tread, resisting Alex's concerns for her safety. and soon he is helping her sort the puzzle pieces as the body count goes up (with the neat twist that as they hone in, it is lawyers or their assistants who are now dropping dead). Their relationship has matured into an easy partnership built on love, trust and the potato chip that rhymes with "Tingles." It provides a soothing stability that contrasts with the dark, random world of mayhem they are navigating together.   


"I generally advise my clients to make both a British and an Italian Will."Murder in Hand 


     All the AAI books turn on classical theater or operatic references or clues. Murder in Hand pays homage to Gianni Schicchi (which Puccini based on Danté's Divine Comedy), a comic opera about a dead man's Will gone wrong, schemers and estate swindlers. And it won't be spoiling too much to divulge that key action takes place in the Italian town that hosts an annual Puccini festival.

     The book's title is a double entendre. British police refer to an investigation in progress as "in hand." And as for the other meaning...well, you'll just have to read the book, won't you?

      (Hint: Bone up on your Puccini!)



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Celia Conrad said...

Many thanks to Carolyn Howard-Johnson for including this review of Murder in Hand on the site.

To read more about the Alicia Allen Investigates legal crime series or to contact me please go to: http://celiaconrad.blogspot.co.uk

Or send me at tweet to @Iwrite2b or find me on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/ojn62ez

Thank you!

cleemckenzie said...

I love a good crime story. I'll check this out.