The Big Dig (Carlotta Carlyle Series #9)

The Big Dig (Carlotta Carlyle Series #9)

3.4 5
by Linda Barnes

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Carlotta Carlyle, the six-foot-tall redheaded private investigator, thought that working undercover searching out fraud on Boston's Big Dig would be a challenging assignment. After all, the Big Dig, the creation of a central artery tunnel running beneath crowded downtown Boston is an engineering marvel, the largest urban construction project in modern history, a


Carlotta Carlyle, the six-foot-tall redheaded private investigator, thought that working undercover searching out fraud on Boston's Big Dig would be a challenging assignment. After all, the Big Dig, the creation of a central artery tunnel running beneath crowded downtown Boston is an engineering marvel, the largest urban construction project in modern history, a fourteen billion dollar boondoggle in the eyes of protesters. Playing a mild-mannered secretary working out of a construction trailer is not quite the thrill ride she had in mind.

Carlotta decides to moonlight, taking on a missing persons case, but the search for Veronica James turns up one dead end after another. So do her fraud investigations on the Dig, and soon it looks like Carlotta has dug herself one big hole. But then a break-in at Veronica's coupled with the mysterious death of a construction worker on one of the sites stirs up a storm, and soon enough Carlotta is in over her head in more ways than one.

Suspenseful, unpredictable, and vivid, The Big Dig is a startling return to form for one of the masters of the crime genre.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The taut ninth entry in Barnes's Carlotta Carlyle series concerns malfeasance at Boston's Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project, "the biggest urban construction project in the history of the modern world," an engineering marvel and a multibillion-dollar opportunity for graft, kickbacks and political favors. Wounded in the thigh from a gunshot during her last case (1999's Flashpoint) and in the heart from a romance with a rising Mafia don, Carlyle poses as a secretary to find what's rotten at a Big Dig contractor, Horgan Construction. A disgruntled hardhat falls to his death-or is he pushed? Someone seems to be stealing dirt from the site. The boss's wife has a horrible case of nerves. Just as Carlyle feels stymied at the Big Dig, she's diverted by a second, more lucrative case-Dana Endicott, a Boston Brahmin, begs her to find her missing tenant, Veronica James, whose fate seems tied to an oddly silent kennel. Carlyle is immensely likable, tough without being hard, flawed in ways more original than the average mean streets sleuth. Barnes makes excellent use of Boston's ethnic and economic fiefdoms: the waterfront with its yuppies guzzling designer beer; South Boston, where despair clings to its citizens like the aluminum siding to their decrepit houses. The many plot threads are abruptly but satisfyingly tied up with writing that's vivid, economical and fun. Carlyle thinks: "This business, this art, of deception, of keeping daily secrets, hiding a side of your personality, intrigued me." It intrigues readers, too. (Nov. 1) Forecast: A big push from the publisher, including an author tour and national print advertising, could help bring Barnes the kind of sales associated with mysteries featuring better-known women sleuths-or with that other Boston female PI, Robert B. Parker's Sunny Randall. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The bills that lone-wolf shamus Carlotta Carlyle's been wrestling soften her up for Happy Eddie Conklin's invitation to go undercover for Foundation Security. As a secretary/gofer in one of the site offices of Horgan Construction's contribution to Boston's mammoth Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project, she's supposed to nose out what Eddie, spurred by an onsite tipster, calls "stuff going on. . . . Graft. Fraud." But the gossipy inquiries she launches go no further than a rumor that somebody is selling dirt; she realizes that she's landed the job for reasons that have nothing to do with her professional skills; her persistent questions about Krissi Horgan, the precocious but unseen daughter of well-connected head honchos Gerry and Liz Horgan, get her fired by the boss lady herself; meantime, the informant is killed in a fall from a scaffold. Luckily, Carlotta's picked up a second case in the interim: the disappearance of dog groomer Veronica James, whose society landlady, Dana Endicott, is sure she would never have taken off for good in the Jeep Dana offered her without taking Tandy, her beloved Norwegian wolfhound. The two cases-suspected construction fraud and a demonstrably missing person-have so little to do with each other that they must be connected, and watching Carlotta tease out their deep, disturbing connections is pure pleasure. It hardly matters that the heroine's usual menagerie, from mobbed-up ex-lover Sam Gianette to "little sister" Paolina, is kept well in the background. Carlotta (Flashpoint, 1999, etc.) can carry this ninth case all by herself.
From the Publisher

“The most refreshing, creative female character to hit mystery fiction since Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.” —People

“Carlotta Carlyle combines the sensitivity of Robert Parker's Spenser with the stubbornness of Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski and she's rapidly carving out a place of her own.” —Chicago Tribune

“Carlotta is an engaging narrator with a brisk, easy-going style...a worthy competitor in the private eye business.” —Washington Post

“A shrewd piece of writing, Well-researched and smartly told.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Like the best of the new detectives, V.I. and Kinsey, [Carlotta Carlyle] is a woman of wit and gravity, compassion and toughness, a heroine worth spending time with.... [Those of us] who yearn for whodunits with character as well wrought as plot, can only thank Linda Barnes.” —Susan Isaacs, The New York Times Book Review

“Move over Spenser, make permanent room on the streets of Boston for another sleuth who's big (six feet one), strong and tough as nails but soft at the core.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Her first person prose is well-honed, and her touch is sure enough to float her fast-paced narrative while still allowing for sharp development of an intriguing cast of characters...Best of all, Barnes can turn a phrase well enough to make even Paretsky and Grafton jealous.” —Houston Chronicle

“It's always a pleasure to spend time with this zesty detective...Carlotta has class and spirit to spare.” —Baltimore Sun

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Carlotta Carlyle Series , #9
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Meet the Author

Linda Barnes is the author of eight previous Carlotta Carlyle mysteries and winner of the Anthony and American Mystery Awards. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and son.

Linda Barnes is winner of the Anthony and American Mystery Awards, an Edgar Award finalist, and the author of the Carlotta Carlyle mysteries, including Heart of the World and Lie Down with the Devil. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and son.

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3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
edofarrell More than 1 year ago
The cliches fly in this strained and pained novel. We have a CSI amputee with the nickname 'stump', we have the mysterious stranger creeping about and doing inexplicable things. The only thing missing is the Bat Cave. Seriously the only thing that should be taken seriously about this novel is that it'd be good for starting fires. It has little other value unless you're 14 years-old and just cutting your teeth on detective fiction. Then it might be interesting. As adult fare, not so much.
katknit More than 1 year ago
PI Carlotta Carlyle goes undercover in this outing, and that's not exactly an easy task for a 6-foot tall redhead! Hired by a former colleague, she's trying to determine the validity of fraud accusations lodged against a construction firm working Boston's infamous Big Dig. Never a 9 to 5-ver, Carlotta's also moonlighting on a missing person case. Rats, dogs, and lots of water play a major role in her investigations, which strangely enough, begin to merge. Carlotta relies nearly as much upon her instincts that her evidence, as none of the principals seems willing to level with her. When new love interest enters the scene, even he is not what he appears to be. More mystery than a thriller, The Big Dig is a light unprepossessing novel that in me, at least, evoked a bit of the spirit of Sam Spade.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Once The Big Dig is finished the highway system congestion in Boston and the surrounding areas should ease up considerably. Estimated at two billion dollars, the cost is now at fourteen billion with no end in sight. Private detective Carlotta Carlyle is hired to go undercover and look into allegations of fraud, but she comes up with nothing to show for her fee. In fact, she is fired from the last site for reasons that make little sense.

While working on the Dig Case, Carlotta is also pursuing a missing person¿s case. Wealthy socialite Dana Endicott wants Carlotta to find her missing friend and roommate who left one weekend to visit her parents and never returned. Nobody, including her parents, has seen or heard from her. While investigating both cases simultaneously Carlotta finds an unexpected link that send her and the FBI scrambling to prevent the slaughter of thousands of innocents.

Readers who like a hard-boiled urban noir private detective novel are going to love the BIG DIG. The plot is fast-paced, the story line is credible and the characters are totally realistic. Linda Barnes¿ latest installment in her long running series is her best one to date as there are a lot of twists and turns in this book. Readers will never lose interest, not even for a moment.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
PI Carlotta Carlyle has been hired to work undercover searching for fraud on Boston¿s Big Dig. She is to be a mild-mannered secretary working in a construction trailer. This is not what Carlotta had in mind. She also ends up, with the help of her little sister, being hired in a missing person¿s case. Veronica James left for a weekend and never came back. Now her landlady, and friend, wants Carlotta to find her. She hits one brick wall after another in her search for Veronica Things aren¿t going much better in the fraud investigation. Then a construction worker dies and Carlotta isn¿t sure it was an accident. There¿s a break-in at Veronica¿s. Carlotta isn¿t too sure things are what they seem here as well. Carlotta ends up putting herself in some dangerous situations to try to bring both cases to a close. I recommend this book. I really enjoy Carlotta. I must admit this wasn¿t one of my tops in this series, but it was an enjoyable read. I think people who have lived through the Big Dig in Boston relate better to this story.