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The Hard Way: A Rachel Alexander Mystery (Rachel Alexander & Dash Mysteries) Hardcover – September 26, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Rachel Alexander & Dash Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060539038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060539030
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #943,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When a retired businessman is pushed to his death on Manhattan's subway tracks, his daughter retains the services of PI Rachel Alexander in Benjamin's well-plotted, thoughtful ninth episode (after 2005's Without a Word) in her series starring the former dog trainer and her trusty pit bull, Dashiell. The police believe a homeless man killed the victim, Gardner Redstone, so Rachel—escorted by her canine companion—goes undercover as a homeless woman to track down the perpetrator. Numerous interviews give her cause to believe that malice rather than madness motivated the crime, and Rachel cleans up to pose as an employee at Redstone's upscale leather goods store, now run by his daughter, Eleanor. Rachel's sleuthing efforts finally pay off, but not before she experiences firsthand the painful gap between New York City's fabulously wealthy and abject poor. Benjamin brings a strong sense of place and social conscience to her latest outing. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The plight of the homeless frames Benjamin's ninth Rachel Alexander mystery. Rachel goes undercover as a homeless woman to find the homeless man who supposedly caused the death of businessman Gardner Redstone by pushing him onto the New York subway tracks. Hired by Redstone's daughter after the police give up on the case, Rachel attempts to puzzle out what really happened, all the while noting the disparity between the lives of the homeless and those who can drop thousands on a designer purse. This popular series by genre vet Benjamin stars a female sleuth working in an urban setting but employs a lighter, almost cozylike tone. Sue O'Brien
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Detra Fitch VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The daughter of Gardner Redstone hires Rachel Alexander to find the person who pushed her father into the path of an oncoming subway train. The police are stymied and the daughter wants answers. Of course there are a few witnesses and Rachel begins interviewing them all. Rachel must listen and study the varied stories told to her by a little boy, a ditsy lady, an ornery little store owner, and a grandmother.

Rachel does not seem to be doing any better than the police did, so she decides to go undercover as a homeless woman. Her disguise is not very good though, so she asks Eddie Perkins, a war veteran who is living on the New York streets, to help her.

**** Author Carol Lea Benjamin has another winner on her hands with this, the ninth novel in the Rachel Alexander mystery series. This book is aptly named too. I found myself more interested in the lives of the homeless and how they cope than anything else, especially during the winter. An extremely well written story that will open the eyes of many readers to the homeless situation, while challenging their intellect. ****

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charlean Souligne on March 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is number nine in this series featuring "Research Specialist" Rachel Alexander and her faithful pit-bull Dashiell. These books are a nice read. No blood and gore, no shoot- outs not even psychological thrills. Just good detecting work hitting the streets, working the clues from our heroine who just happens to "help" people. I've read all of the books in this series and I have yet to figure out how Rachel pays her bills. She refers to a previous life as a wife and a dog trainer, but I can't see how finding lost soles, or solving `cold cases" pays her bills.

Besides that there are plots to the stories and Rachel does keep the pace moving along.

This outing she is looking for the person who shoved a man onto the subway. She goes undercover as a homeless person in New York in the winter. She sees an entirely different side to the city she loves, even encountering her ex who doesn't recognize her. I thought that could have been left out, it seemed contrived.

Rachel follows the clues from the underground subways, to the ritzy shops to the homeless shelters and back to the why and who of the crime.

This is a soft mystery book, not a lot of action, but the pace does move along from clue to clue. The books are just long enough to while away a Sunday afternoon with a cup of cocoa. Any avid mystery reader can pick out the ending way before the last chapter; it just takes Rachel a little longer. There are moral issues involved and lots of commentary on the way of the world, so maybe this is Benjamin's soapbox.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In The Hard Way, Carol Lea Benjamin's ninth installment, Rachel must find a homeless man who is accused of murdering her prominent client's father. Gardner Redstone was waiting for the subway when someone pushed him into the oncoming train, tragically killing him. Gardner's daughter Eleanor has no idea who would want to kill her father, but several witnesses are claiming they saw a tall homeless man, with a tattoo on his hand, push Gardner.

Rachel decides the only way to find the killer, is to pose as a homeless person. While undercover, she meets a homeless man named Eddie, a soldier who fought in Iraq. Eddie can't remember his real name and is another lost soul on the street. Rachel forms an instant liking to this kind-hearted man and looks to him for help with her investigation. Together they roam the mean streets of New York looking for the suspect.

When Eddie becomes missing, Rachel's investigation takes a turn. She gives up her homeless persona, so she can work undercover in Eleanor's upscale leather store. Rachel investigates the people who worked closest with Gardner Redstone. In between working in the store, she questions the witnesses from the subway station. The witnesses' stories are all different. Something fishy is going on and Rachel needs to find out!

This was the first book that I've read by Carol Lea Benjamin and I loved it. Plenty of suspects kept me guessing whom the killer was. I loved the short chapters, which kept the story moving along at a fast pace.

I was surprised with the transition of taking Rachel from pretending to be homeless, to working in an upscale store with wealthy customers. I think the author was trying to compare the two different lifestyles of the rich versus the poor.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rachel Alexander and her dog, Dashiell are a team of private detectives. Yes, Dashiell is a very important part of Rachel's work. Most of us that have dogs realize how much a part of our lives they are and we treat them like the "kids" they are to us. When businessman Garner Redstone is pushed off the platform into the front of a subway train and is killed, Rachel receives a call from Redstone's daughter requesting that Rachel find out who did this terrible deed. It seems there were some homeless among those standing on the subway platform and could they have pushed Redstone? They were suspected and accused by many on the platform.

While seeing a bad fire among a group of people, some of who are homeless people that had lived in the burning building, Rachel wonders who could have set such a fire and put so many people out of a living area. Seeing all the homeless, she decided the best way to obtain information on this murder was to go underground and become a homeless person herself. Using "Eunice" as her homeless name and "Lookout" for Dashiell, she started touring the homeless areas near where the fire occurred. She was accepted by a few but rejected by most. Eunice didn't have the look or moves of a homeless woman. She had to learn--and fast! Some of the homeless took her under their wing and trusted her.

Rachel was in and out of underground living while attempting to find the stories of those on the subway platform at the time of the push murder. With the wife's knowledge, she took an undercover job in the exclusive store owned by the deceased and his wife. This store catered to only the high-class sector selling exclusively designed jackets, coats, purses, and ultra specialty dog coats!
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