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In a departure from his senior citizen Lillian Morgan mysteries Alan Cook introduces Tony Schmidt, an aging frat boy living in Bonita Beach, California. Volunteering at a suicide hotline to develop his communication skills and aid his job as a marketing manager for Bodyalternatives.net, Tony discovers that dealing with the emotional backlash of suicidal callers is the least of his problems. Tony is uncomfortably attracted to the seventeen year-old volunteer Shahla, and when her friend and hotline listener is murdered Shahla pulls him into an investigation despite his inclination to leave things to the police. As the two track down their weirder callers and fellow volunteers all the way to Vegas Tony must also cope with his irritatingly immature roommate and confront his growing suspicion as to his college friend¿s involvement with the murder. Cook has created a very engaging hero in Tony, who realizes that he has to grow up fast as he encounters the pain of the callers and learns just how much that he himself has to lose. Shahla is at times wiser than her years while still flashing glimpses of being a teenage girl, and her impulsiveness nicely contrasts with Tony¿s reserve. This is a very entertaining mystery that builds up speed and takes the reader along to its surprising conclusion.
Not long after Tony Schmidt joins the Central Hotline in Bonita Beach, California, Joy is found murdered. Both are listeners¿people who man the Hotline and talk to the callers. Tony pairs up with Shahla Lawton, another listener and Joy¿s best friend. They begin working many shifts together. Since Tony and Shahla work at the Hotline, they find they can often get information the police are unable to obtain. But instead of turning everything over to the police, they begin to follow up on much of the information themselves. Partly because the police don¿t seem too receptive to the information and partly because of privacy rules. They begin looking into some of the inappropriate callers and others with a connection to the Hotline to determine who might have had a motive to kill Joy. There are many strange people and they have to sift through information to determine if the person is just having trouble or if they might have a motive to have killed Joy. Tony and Shahla put themselves in many very sticky situations and find themselves in peril more than once as they work to uncover the identity of the killer. This is a great story. It moves along quickly and keeps you guessing as to who committed this murder and why. There are plenty of red herrings and things happen regularly that made me change my mind continuously about who I thought did it. I really enjoyed getting to know Tony and Shahla. Even though Shahla is only a teenager, she is such an integral part of this story. Their relationship is terrific. I hope there will be more books with these two main characters. This story is well crafted and the California setting terrific. I highly recommend this book.
My vision requirers white print on black background. This book shows black print on black.