Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle
Three Mystery Stories by Linda Barnes
Review: Three previously published short stories, all featuring Boston cab driver and sometime private investigator Carlotta Carlyle, are collected in the single digital volume Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle by Linda Barnes.
The first story, "Lucky Penny", was written in 1985 and introduced Carlotta. It was honored the following year with an Anthony Award for Best Short Story. (The first full-length novel to feature the character was A Trouble of Fools, published in 1987.) The storyline here is a solid one, providing Carlotta with a real puzzle when a fare she picked up robs her of all her cash, including $4.82 in change she had in her pocket. She later finds the cash dumped in a trash can nearby, but the change is missing. Why rob a cab, toss the cash, and keep the change? She works through various scenarios before deducing why that change was so important to the thief. A strong story overall, and definitely worthy of the award it won.
"Miss Gibson", written in 1996, doesn't refer to a person, but a guitar, one Carlotta has coveted for years. When a client asks her to fly across country to investigate why someone might be following her, Carlotta agrees subject to payment for her services to include Miss Gibson. This is probably the weakest of the three stories in this collection; it has a thrilling start with Carlotta being kidnapped from the airport, but once Carlotta frees herself not much happens, closing with an anti-climactic and mostly forgettable ending.
Finally, "Stealing First" is set at Fenway Park in Boston, always an interesting venue for a mystery. (This story first appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine.) Carlotta runs into a petty thief she once ran in when she was a cop. He's taking in the game with his niece, and he asks Carlotta if she could watch her for a few minutes. Of course, something's up but the real twist comes later and is a good one (though it isn't quite clear why Carlotta didn't figure it out much sooner).
The whole ebook is less than 50 pages, making for a quick read. Readers unfamiliar with the character will find Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle to be a good introduction to her, with many likely to seek out one or more of the twelve mystery novels in which she appears.
Acknowledgment: Open Road provided an eARC of Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle: Boston; Portland, Oregon
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Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle by Linda Barnes — Three Mystery Stories
Publisher: Open Road
Publication Date: July 2015
List Price: $1.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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