A Jackie Swaitkowski Mystery by Chris Knopf
Review: Readers familiar with Chris Knopf's Sam Acquillo mysteries will recognize the character of his attorney, Jackie Swaitkowski, who is given her own series that starts with a new client who promptly turns up dead in Short Squeeze.
Sergey Pontecello hires Jackie to help him remove his sister-in-law, Eunice, from his home, who has returned following the death of his wife, Elizabeth. He tells Jackie that the house and grounds were left to Elizabeth and Eunice by their parents, but Eunice long ago signed a quitclaim deed on the property leaving it exclusively owned by Elizabeth and Sergey. Jackie quickly learns that Sergey's information is correct, but he failed to tell her — or maybe he just didn't know — that the property is mortgaged to the hilt against a credit line provided by Eunice. When Sergey phones later that evening to complain about Eunice locking him out of his bathroom, Jackie brushes it off as frivolous — until she's called by the police a few hours later. Her card was in Sergey's shirt pocket, his dead body found by the side of the road outside his home. Feeling slightly guilty about brushing him off earlier, Jackie begins her own investigation, which takes an ominous turn when her truck is forced off the road. Enlisting the help of an old flame, she discovers an intricate web of family secrets — and that someone is willing to go to any lengths to keep them that way.
The light, easy-going, at times brash, narrative style of Short Squeeze deceptively masks a plot that is filled with unforeseen turns. Not plot twists per se, but plot pathways that seem to be heading one way only to end in delightfully unexpected places. What could have been a standard, run-of-the-mill murder mystery, ends up being surprisingly refreshing as a consequence.
Given that Jackie was introduced in another series by the author, and that that other character makes an appearance in this book, it's tempting to make comparisons between the two. But Knopf has intentionally (and cleverly) written them in differing styles, reflecting the distinct personalities of his series characters, making comparisons not only difficult, but irrelevant. What trait they do share, however, is the author's inherent ability to lead the reader in one direction while subtly setting the stage for something completely different — and unanticipated — to occur. It's all very well done and Short Squeeze is highly recommended.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Short Squeeze for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Permanent Press (Hardcover), May 2009
ISBN-13: 9781579621834; ISBN-10: 157962183X
The Permanent Press (Hardcover), May 2010
ISBN-13: 9781579621988; ISBN-10: 1579621988
Location(s) referenced in Short Squeeze: The Hamptons, Long Island New York
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Short Squeeze by Chris Knopf — A Jackie Swaitkowski Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: January 2010
List Price: $24.99