Chanticleer Book Reviews

Grand Theft Death is best read when you need a break from reality. Don’t read it if your two feet are firmly placed in all things serious. In fact, don’t read it if you are even thinking of going to the serious side of life. This book is as realistic as a Saturday morning cartoon – and twice the fun.

The characters are delightfully quirky, the situation fun and surprising, and the action as snappy as popping corn. The heroine, Patty Schuster, is kind, sincere, wry, and unique, at the same time so easygoing that she can roll with the endless punches the plot throws at her and carry on with a good heart.

Good thing, since the plot treats Patty like a punching bag.

She starts out in jail, falsely arrested for car theft, then gets tangled up with thieves, spies, forgers, smugglers, bad cops, good cops, sleazy hoteliers, double-crossing gangsters, nosy neighbors, felonious grannies, and divorcing parents—not to mention murder of the friend in trouble she tried to help, which led to her arrest.

Meanwhile, she’s trying to learn the antique business she inherited from her grandmother. Being a fine artist and a surfer, Patty has zero knowledge of furniture and collectibles. However, she needs income and was unhappy as a graphic artist, so she’s motivated to keep the enterprise alive despite the nuttiness going on around her.

It’s harder to keep herself alive, given trouble she gets into. Most of it revolves around the rare, valuable Cadillac she was accused of stealing, and which keeps getting re-stolen by half the cast while the other half tries to get it back or figure out what’s going on or save each other’s skin. This gives the feel of the Keystone Cops scrambling through a Doris Day comedy, with Patty as the naive “straight man.” In the middle of it all, she meets a nice fellow who adds the possibility of romance if she can get out of the mess she’s in.

Whichever way you take the humor, you’ll find the writing smooth and Patty’s voice appealing. It gives her credibility in a lunatic world. The novel is billed as a “Salty Sister” mystery—a name that makes sense by the end—and is first in Philipp’s Salty Sisters series. Readers whose funny bones are tickled by zany capers will be lining up for the next volume.

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