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Mystery Review    



Fortunes of the Dead
by Lynn Hightower
Atria Books, 2003
Hardcover, $24.00  (320 pages)
ISBN:  0743463897
For Lena Padgett, a Lexington, Kentucky private investigator, life is looking good. She's just moved into her dream house, an old stone cottage in the Chevy Chase neighborhood with her lover, homicide detective, Joel Mendez when she's hired by the stepfather of a missing ATF intern to look into the young woman's disappearance. Aware that Mendez, who's been working on the same case for two months, will be upset with her working on the same case, Lena takes the job anyway.

As Joel grows colder and more distant, Lena turns up information that indicates Cheryl Dunkirk may have been involved with a married police officer on loan from London, Kentucky. She's convinced that Cheryl is dead, and that her death is somehow linked to a search for a serial killer, who is targeting FBI and ATF agents who were involved in the David Coresh Branch Davidian holocaust in Waco. To complicate matters, Mendez is teamed up with Wilson McCoy, a California ATF agent, badly wounded at Waco and temporarily assigned to the Nashville office.

Lena's investigation leads her to a mountaintop farm in Tennessee, to a showdown with a ruthless killer. Hightower's terrific at building the suspense, and slips in several surprises along the way. This second in the Lena Padgett series, following last year's stand-alone, High Water, shows a talented writer improving every time out.

Lynn Hightower now lives in Tennessee and was the winner of Private Eye Writers of America 1994 Shamus Award for Satan's Lambs, a series about Sonora Blair, a Cincinnati police officer.


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