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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
No one writes about the perils of substance abuse the way Barbara Seranella does. She knows, for example, that something as seemingly innocuous as a prescription for Tylenol 3 can be dangerous to a recovering addict/alcoholic. And in No Man Standing she demonstrates, once again, her considerable talent for depicting the difficulties and rewards of living sober.
Munch's old pal Ellen has been released from prison after a six-month stay for parole violations. Has she learned anything? Nope. She's still deluded, still after the high from cheap wine, or any other alcoholic beverage that might be available. And once again she drags Munch into a whole load of trouble because of a bagful of bogus currency. Everybody wants that money, but Ellen wants it most of all. The Feds want the money, bad guys want the money, and Ellen's running hustles here, there and everywhere to stay ahead of the pursuers.
In the midst of all this, Munch is trying to move with her adopted daughter Asia into a new house; Munch is striving for normalcy in a world that seems unwilling to allow it. But there are signs of hope--the mother of one of Asia's friends extends friendship, to Munch's bewildered gratitude. There's also a nonjudgmental cop who may well appear again in Munch's future.
As always in Seranella's books, the characters are fully developed, warts and all; the narrative drives along in top gear, and the resolution is most satisfactory.
Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2003
I discovered Munch Mancini on a rainy, dreary Friday while cruising www.Amazon.com and went to the library and checked out all the books in the series and had a spectacular weekend Munch read-a-thon. I loved every single book. She gets better and sharper with each consecutive story. Ms. Seranella's stories have the flavor of hard-core reality with just the right touch of suspense and plot twists. No writer I've ever read has the drug scene down the way she does....you can feel the despair and hopelessness of the characters radiating from the pages....and then comes Munch, a ray of hope as one who escaped the druggie lifestyle, a true survivor. Thanks Ms. Seranella for a great series. Keep 'em coming!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 19, 2003
In NO MAN STANDING, ex-bad girl Munch Mancini is now eight years down the straight and narrow after giving up alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, and bikers. An ace auto mechanic and owner of a struggling limo business, Munch is moving into a new house with her adopted daughter, Asia, when an old friend in need shows up.
Ellen Summers was Mancini's best gal-pal in the rough old days, and is just released from her latest stint in the California Institution for Women, a penal facility. Summers is being sought by vicious killers who want returned a very large sum of counterfeit Franklins that she found and hid before her most recent imprisonment. The first bodies in a growing pile are those of Ellen's Mom and stepfather. Meanwhile, Munch is being harassed by the jealous ex of a poor choice of lovers, and she doesn't need the heavy baggage that Ellen has brought to her and Asia's doorstep.
By design or not, assigning Ellen a major role in this fifth book of the Munch Mancini series was true inspiration by author Barbara Seranella. Summers is at least a pale reflection of Seranella's protagonist before she became a contributing member of society. For those steady readers of the series, who perhaps thought that Munch was becoming too middle-class, or for those being introduced to Munch for the first time, Ellen is a much-needed reminder of Mancini's former low-life edginess. That aspect, plus the ending plot twist of NO MAN STANDING, extends my interest in the series as a whole, the storylines of which will need to be unpredictable to keep me returning for more. While the last chapter gives a too obvious hint to the evolution of Mancini's love life in the next book, I trust the author will surprise us.
The back flap of NO MAN STANDING reveals that Barbara Seranella ran away at fourteen from the showcase upper middle-class enclave of Pacific Palisades, CA, joined a San Francisco hippie commune, rode with outlaw bikers, and became an auto mechanic. Since I also spent several idyllic childhood years in Pacific Palisades before my uneventful and unrebellious teens, I wish we could sit and compare notes to determine where I went wrong.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
In 1985, Los Angeles police detectives Art Becker and Rico Chacon almost lose their lunch looking at the tortured corpses of Dwayne and Lila Mae Summers. Not long afterward they visit Lila Mae's adult daughter from her first marriage Ellen, a resident of the California Institute for Women at Frontera. Ellen is stunned with the news knowing she will receive her parole "freedom" tomorrow in time to host a funeral.

Because of her trips to the prison to see Ellen, Rico visits the reformed troublemaker turned automobile mechanic and adopted mother Munch Mancini to obtain information on who would want the innocent couple dead. Believing there is a connection to Ellen, Munch investigates even as she deals with a stalker who accuses her of stealing her life. However, she finds evidence involving stolen loot connected to Ellen that Munch hides from Rico though she is attracted to the law enforcement official. This leads to someone willing to murder children to gain what they believe is theirs while coming after Munch.

The fifth Munch Mancini amateur sleuth tale is a great novel because readers gain insight into the heroine's dark past and current motivations. The story line of NO MAN STANDING is action packed, but belongs to an impressive cast who enables the audience to better understand Munch while forwarding the who-done-it plot. The audience's hearts will reach out to the preadolescent friend of Munch's daughter who is caught in the crossfire of two selfish adults. That sidebar augments the intense look at the star though not critical to the prime theme. Fans of amateur sleuth tales will enjoy munching on Barbara Seranella's latest tale.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Barbara Seranella, No Man Standing (Scribner's, 2002)
If you're looking for something to take to the beach, look no further. Talk about a quick read: I started it between a wedding and its reception on Saturday and finished it Sunday evening, despite having the reception, post-reception drinks, and a brunch the day after that turned into a five-hour affair.
The fifth Munch Mancini novel begins with Munch's old friend Ellen Summers getting out of prison the day after her mother and stepfather are killed in a rather gruesome fashion. Ellen has an explanation of why someone would have been after her mother, but the explanation has too many holes in it to completely make sense. Combine this with Ellen's real father coming back into the picture, a crazy woman stalking Munch, a new romantic interest (on the police force, no less), and you've got yourself a novel.
Quick, witty, and absorbing, No Man Standing is pretty much the perfect beach novel; easy, fun, and with short enough chapters that you know, when you finish one, it's time to expose a different side to the sun. ***
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Boy, can this author write. Hard, restless, muscular prose that drives the story relentlessly forward. Barbara Saranella is in full command of her work. Just as her hero, Munch Mancini is in control of her life—pretty much. She should be. Mancini is an unusual anti-hero—almost. She’s defied parental control, been on the street, run away, done drugs and knows an almost incredible array of those who regularly travel the mean streets of any large city, particularly Los Angeles, where this story takes place.

Mancini is getting her life together, what with a regular job as an auto mechanic and her start-up limousine service. She’s managed to put together a deal to buy a house, and her relationship with her eight-year old daughter is improving every day. But then trouble arrives in the shape of long-time girlfriend Ellen Summers. Mancini believes in relationships, almost to a fault. So when Ellen’s mother and stepfather are murdered and Ellen, ex-druggie, ex-stripper ex-thief is released from jail, Munch is immediately and unwillingly swept up in a swirling cesspool of low-life thievery, gun-play and deadly attempts to find hidden boodle.

There are clever twists, crackling blunt dialogue while Munch has some second thoughts about helping Ellen in what is becoming more and more evidently a criminal enterprise. She doesn’t want to become collateral damage. More importantly she doesn’t want any of this to touch her daughter, Asia. But Munch Mancini is not one to sit around wallowing in self-pity or wringing her hands worrying about whether she’s up to the challenges life is throwing at her. Get out there and do it sister! That’s her thing and let the chips—and bodies—fall where they may. I say bravo. One terrific novel.
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on May 29, 2014
There won't be anymore, so if you haven't yet got acquainted wit cop Mindy Mancini, start from the first book of the series and you'll enjoy following through
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on January 16, 2014
I like this series, and this book has been as interesting as the others. An easy read, which isn't all bad.
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on December 28, 2013
it was very fast moving and gives you an insight into the life of drug addicts and how they can wind up
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2002
Loved the characters; loved the writing style! It's nice to see that some writers can create some original engaging characters. I'll be sure to check out the earlier books in the series.
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