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Kick Back: A Kate Brannigan Mystery Paperback – September 1, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 2 of 5 in the Kate Brannigan Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The Case of the Missing Conservatories" is what lively and likeable Kate Brannigan, the English detective from Manchester introduced in Dead Beat , calls this, her second adventure, which founders a bit in tangled plot lines. Hired by conservatory builder Ted Barlow, whose bank is refusing him further credit, Kate tracks down the clients who contracted for the glass additions, which, once constructed (and used to support remortgaging arrangements), were mysteriously dismantled. Then Kate's best friend, who recently paid a sizable down payment on land which turns out to have already been sold, asks for help. Kate finds her lawyer at his home, decked out in woman's clothing and quite dead. A third plot thread involves Kate in interminable surveillance gigs on a case of industrial espionage. None of these pursuits gains much momentum, which is a pity, because Kate is a breath of fresh air, Manchester a fine mystery locale and Richard, Kate's dope-smoking, rock journalist boyfriend, pleasant company too. Less plot and more Kate would likely suit most readers next time around.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Earnest, honest, likable contractor Ted Barlow is about to go bust; the bank is cutting off his credit, thanks to the high rate of defaults on mortgages taken out to purchase one of his conservatories (a sunroom attached to the back of a standing house). Barlow appeals to Manchester p.i. Kate Brannigan (Deadbeat, 1993) for help, and admits to an even greater complication: Many of the aforementioned conservatories have simply vanished! Kate's investigation unearths unscrupulous lawyer Martin Cheetham (later found hanging from his balcony in flimsy women's apparel); supersalesman Jack McCafferty, with an overstuffed bank account; and a brother-sister pair who are double-crossing everyone. And all this land-fiddling ties in with a separate real-estate scam that's been worked on Kate's chums Alexis and Chris--a scam that also involves complicated mischief perpetrated on the Land Registry. Clever plot twists--and Kate's wit has the bite of Fran Leibowitz's. Minor appearances by Deadbeat regulars Bill, Kate's computer-whiz partner, and rock-critic lover Richard. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Kate Brannigan Mystery
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloody Brits Press (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932859195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932859195
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,082,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Brown on January 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books I read on a whim, and I'm very glad that I did. The character of Kate Brannigan has become one of my favorite private eyes (Philip Marlowe is still my number one) over the few days it took me to finish the story. Kate is perky, polite with words but pleasantly cynical in thought. Her workout of choice is kickboxing, but Ms. McDermid doesn't turn it into an over-the-top [method] of destruction while encountering no-goodnicks in puruit of her cases. She has a [carefree] rock journalist boyfriend who enjoys smoking [illegal substances], and their greatest bond seems to be the perpetual quest for palatable Chinese food.
This is the first work I have read by V.L. McDermid, and I absolutely love her story telling, characters and use of dialogue from start to finish. The spark of the novel is an odd case of disappearing and/or phantom conservatories; a bland subject to start with, but blends into a fascinating tale of low profile [con] artists. Detective Brannigan is close friends with a lesbian couple, and I love how Ms. McDermid introduces them as one would introduce any loving couple, without trying to make contrived statements regarding alternative lifestyles.
The only thing that keeps me from delivering that final fifth star is the proofreading. There are enough typos and errors in this edition that it really started to make a great story look, at times, amateurish on paper. I rarely make an issue when I see a typo here and there, but the frequency of mistakes here was distracting.
Do not let that criticism stop you from picking up this book. The pace, characters and plot twists keep this story slick! I plan to read every Kate Brannigan caper in existence.
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By CEC on December 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really like Val McDermid's Tony Hill series, but am having trouble warming up to the Kate Brannigan stories. The protagonist is a little too flippant, and she doesn't face the seriously disturbed kinds of bad guys that Tony Hill crosses. I don't plan to read any more of them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Follow Val's Brannigan on her quest to find disappearing conservatories and plots double-dippled. Will she survive an attempt on her life? Will she find the culprits in the remorgage scam? Only one dead body - was it murder or suicide? All is revealed over dinner with her partner, Richard.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
We were so charmed by McDermid’s private eye Kate Brannigan in her first appearance in “Dead Beat” that we hurried to this second in her 6-book set, “Kick Back”. While Kate was still a fun and resourcefully persistent character, the plot did little to engage us – indeed, many readers were as buffaloed as the novel’s players by the convoluted mortgage refinancing scheme that dominated the story. A sub-plot involving a land-swindling conspiracy, complete with a cross-dressing lawyer, wasn’t really that clear or entertaining either. And Kate’s partner Bill, who was on vacation during most of the tale, had merely the same bit part as in the first book.

All entries in this series were published in the 90’s, suggesting the author herself tired of the premise of Kate and Bill’s mostly white-collar crime solving team, although we are not so discouraged we might try another visit with Kate. Meanwhile, the author has two other series (in addition to the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan set) – one contemporary with Brannigan featuring police detective Karen Pirie, and another newer set about Scottish journalist Lindsay Gordon – perhaps those warrant a try…
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's too bad Val McDermid's mysteries are so difficult to find in the U.S., because she's a terrific writer, and Kate Brannigan is a terrific private eye. "Kick Back" is the first of the Brannigan series and can be addictive. Based in the county of Cheshire in England (near Manchester), the very cool Kate encounters all manner of English dirty dealing and bad Chinese food. Every time I go to London, I pick up whatever new Val McDermid paperbacks are available, with Kate the first priority.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Kate Brannigan's second novel she is investigating (as Kate puts it) the mystery of the missing conservatories. She is working for a contractor who is being pressure by the bank to pay off his loan because the bank suspects him to be involved in a fraud. He has made his payments on time and has not had any previous problem with the law, however when he does his own investigation he notices that the conservatories (greenhouses) he has put up have just vanished.
Kate's friend, Alexis, also has a problem. She has been conned out of 5,000 pounds from a real estate scheme and she wants Kate's help. What makes this a bit unique is that the two cases are somewhat related to each other as the story moves along. The story is full of twists and turns and a lot of action. I am sorry this was a quick read but I just love her work.
Kate is a firecracker. She is ready to go at bat for her friends and does not like to leave any stone unturned. She is resourceful and she knows how to kick butt when the time comes. If you want to get on her good side, you do not serve her substandard Chinese food. You might regret it.
McDermid knows how to tell a good story and it is great to know that her earlier novels are just as good as her most recent work. I highly recommend A PLACE OF EXECUTION if you still have not read it. It is her best book up to now bar none.
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