Publishers Weekly - Publishers WeeklyShamus Award winner Harold Adams brings back his series character Kyle Champion, introduced in When Rich Men Die (1987), for more fun and murderous mischief in The Fourth of July Wake. When the young widow of family patriarch P.J. Krueger decides to hold a party in Krueger's honor over the long July 4th weekend, with disaffected children and a strange neighbor with a violent history in attendance, watch out for fireworks. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsA year and a half after marrying ex-nurse Sorah, three months after leaving his body to the University of Minnesota Hospital and his fortune to Sorah, P.J. Krueger dies of an apparent heart attack. What could be more natural than the death of a 64-year-old in bed with his 24-year-old wife? Even so, P.J.�s daughter Marcia, stung less at being disinherited than at being replaced as the family�s queen bee, insists that Sorah somehow murdered the old goat. At the "memorial party" Sorah�s organized in lieu of the funeral P.J. forbade, fuming Marcia asks Kyle Champion, the former TV news reporter and anchor turned private eye who�s come at the invitation of Marcia�s brother Matt, to prove the charge. But it won�t be easy, since the partypart wake, part family reunionis crawling with relatives and hangers-on who had their own reasons for wanting their father, father-in-law, or ex-lover dead. As if suspicion isn�t scattered generously enough, Kyle (When Rich Men Die, 1987) will also have to deal with three comely, forbidden ladies all intent on turning his head and with the ghostly apparition of a loony neighbor whose alleged death in a bus accident hasn�t stopped him from popping up, armed with a hatchet, just when things are getting friendly between Kyle and one of those ladies. Shorn of the understated period background that frames Adams�s trademark hero, Depression-era itinerant Carl Wilcox (Lead, So I Can Follow, 1999, etc.), this decorous hothouse gossipfest lumbers as interminably as the house party from hell.
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Former TV news anchor Kyle Champion reluctantly accepts the invitation from his old college buddy Matt Kreuger to attend a memorial service for the latter¿s deceased dad. Actually, the invitation was offered because Matt¿s sister-in-law Marcia demanded he ask Kyle. She knows Kyle has had some success in solving homicides and Marcia wants Kyle to investigate the death of her father in law, P.J. Though officially P.J. died of a heart attack, Marcia feels his four-decade younger second wife Sorah killed him because she inherits everything in his revised will. Matt drives the three hours from Minneapolis to the remote ¿Kreugerland¿ cabins near Bent Line Lake. There he meets the family he met several years ago when he stayed at the cabins. He also finds Sorah to be quite charming and not at all like a murderous Jezebel. As he unenthusiastically discusses the death with everyone remotely involved, Kyle begins to uncover disturbing discrepancies that makes him wonder if perhaps P.J. was murdered. THE FOURTH OF JULY WAKE is an interesting amateur sleuth mystery that readers will enjoy because of the depth of the ensemble¿s secondary characters. In spite of his TV exposure, Kyle remains a charming idealist though he loses some of rosy optimism due to the results of his inquiries. Though why the dominating Marcia would stay as a second fiddle seems stretched, this cozy will delight fans that will wonder along with Kyle whether a homicide occurred and if so did Sorah really murder her elderly spouse? Harriet Klausner