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
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.
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.