NOBODY CARES MUCH ABOUT A DEAD HOOKER... Nobody but Chicago journalist Cat Marsala, who had befriended the frail young woman who now lies dead in a gutter near Cat's apartment. Four days earlier, Cat had picked Sandra Love, as she liked to be called, out of a crowd of detainees at Women's Court. Cat had something Sandra wanted: a hot meal, in exchange for some information about life on Chicago's streets. That's all Cat intended - a fair trade of food for facts that Cat could use in a television documentary. When ...
NOBODY CARES MUCH ABOUT A DEAD HOOKER... Nobody but Chicago journalist Cat Marsala, who had befriended the frail young woman who now lies dead in a gutter near Cat's apartment. Four days earlier, Cat had picked Sandra Love, as she liked to be called, out of a crowd of detainees at Women's Court. Cat had something Sandra wanted: a hot meal, in exchange for some information about life on Chicago's streets. That's all Cat intended - a fair trade of food for facts that Cat could use in a television documentary. When Sandra later appears at Cat's door and asks to spend the night, Cat's not at all sure she wants a hooker for a guest. And when Sandra shows signs of settling in for an indefinite stay, the small apartment suddenly seems very crowded. Sandra's murder tragically solves Cat's roommate problem, sending her on a quest for a killer and for a deeper understanding of the netherworld of Chicago prostitution, with its caste system in which the streetwalkers, the women in brothels, the escorts, and the by-recommendation-only independents live out their lives - and sometimes die. In the tradition of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, Barbara D'Amato's Cat Marsala combines courage and curiosity as she illuminates some of the most perplexing issues in today's headlines. The result is mystery entertainment of exceptional power from a greatly gifted author.
D'Amato turns in another excellent Cat Marsala mystery (after Hard Luck ) despite the tension-destroying, flash-forward opening in which free-lance journalist Cat finds prostitute Sandra Lupica, her houseguest, dead in the alley behind her apartment building. Cat first meets Sandra while seeking women to interview for her ``TV essay'' on prostitution in Chicago; later her research includes a guided tour with Ross Wardon, a helpful but gratingly sexist vice cop who knows red-light life from streetwalkers up to high-priced escort services. Cat is getting a sense of the varied nature of the prostitution scene when Sandra shows up on her doorstep with her clothing torn, a lump on her head and a fat lip caused by ``My boyfr--my father.'' She'll grant an interview if Cat will put her up temporarily. When the police show only a lukewarm interest in how Sandra went from being safe inside the apartment to dead on the pavement, Cat plunges even deeper into a world where it's tough to tell who your friends are. Although her tale carries a determined social conscience, D'Amato spins an engrossing story, convincing us again that Cat is as likable as she is clever. (Apr.)
In D'Amato's latest, the fourth in her "Hard" series ("Hard Luck", "Hard Tack", "Hardball"), Chicago reporter Cat Marsala is asked to do a television segment on hookers, but researching the piece proves difficult and disheartening. Looking for hookers to interview, Cat befriends a call girl named Sandra, who's found murdered a few days later. The police seem to lack enthusiasm for solving the case, so Cat decides she'll do some independent detecting. There's really nothing much wrong with this tale: Cat's an appealing and good-humored sleuth; the dialogue is mildly clever; the climax is suspense-filled; and prostitution is a thought-provoking if not particularly original subject. It's just that there's no real sparkle, no unpredictability, no charisma--nothing to make "Hard Women" stand out from all the other entries in the already overcrowded field of tough, witty, wisecracking female detective stories. If the Marsala series has found an audience in your library, you'll want to add this one; if not, take a pass.