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Unforced Error (Rep & Melissa Pennyworth Series) Paperback – July 1, 2006
From Publishers Weekly
In Bowen's well-crafted, well-researched second Rep and Melissa Pennyworth misadventure (after 2001's Screenscam), the couple hook up with their good friends librarian Peter Damon and his wife Linda in Kansas City, Mo., for a reenactment of an obscure Civil War battle. Rep, a trademark and copyright lawyer, also hopes to woo as a client the book publisher Linda works for, Jackrabbit Press, whose head, John Paul Lawrence, views reenactments as a means to promote his company's line of bodice-ripping historical romances. When Rep discovers the saber-slit body of Linda's co-worker Thomas Quinlan, just after Linda confesses to Melissa that her relationship with Quinlan has advanced from boardroom to boudoir, the mild-mannered Peter becomes the chief murder suspect. After Peter disappears, Rep uncovers an astounding plot that will certainly catch the reader by surprise. Amusing references to cultural icons both high and low punctuate the narrative (e.g., in the space of one page, Wuthering Heights, Evelyn Waugh, the Audrey Hepburn character in Charade, Kirk Douglas and Seven Days in May, both the book and the movie). A fictional reality-TV program provides the neat twist in the novel's clever opening chapter. And the Civil War stuff is a treat, too: fans of more literate mysteries have good reason to cheer.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Copyright lawyer Rep Pennyworth and wife, Melissa, are back in Bowen's follow-up to Screenscam (2001). The Pennyworths travel to Kansas City to stay with Melissa's school chum, Linda Damon, and her husband, Peter. An employee of Jackrabbit Press, Linda hopes to direct some lucrative copyright business to Rep through an introduction to the company owner, John Paul Lawrence; the only catch being that Rep and Melissa must participate in a Civil War reenactment that Lawrence is attending. After their first night in camp, Rep and another "soldier" find a dead body in the latrine: handsome editor Tom Quinlan, with whom Linda was having an affair. As Rep and Melissa try to solve the crime, our minds are distracted from the somewhat implausible plot by the appeal of the heroes. A modern-day Nick and Nora, the quick-witted Rip and the literature-loving Melissa trade sophisticated quips that may make readers wish they had paid more attention in English class. Good fun, but let's hope Bowen tightens up the plotting a bit next time. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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The dead man isn't exactly a saint--he had an affair with Peter's wife, for one thing--which gives Rep and his wife Melissa a cast of suspects. But the police like to follow the obvious, especially when Peter's civil war cavalry sabre tests positive for the dead man's DNA. Plenty of library research into civil war battles and Vichy France politics, as well as a scad of literary illusions add depth to the story as Melissa tries to decide which philosopher to use to advise her friend--finally to decide on Travis McGee (of John D. MacDonald fame) and Rep finally agrees to play Nick and Nora (of The Thin Man fame) with Melissa.
Author Michael Bowen dishes up plenty of plenty of literary illusions for fans of mystery and literature, a clever opening scene involving a potential affair and reality T.V. and some interesting looks into civil war reenacting. I thought that the final revelation into the badguy's ultimate plot was a bit over the top, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the adventure, the witty dialogue, or the way nerdy librarians, book editors, and intellectual property lawyers become action heros.
This is a very well-written novel, moves with great pace, avoids pitfalls of deficient logic and rockets to a teriffic ending.