Monday, December 04, 2006

A Perfect Ten: THE KEY

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THE KEY - Jennifer Sturman
A Rachel Benjamin Mystery, Book 3
A Perfect 10
Red Dress Ink
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-89603-5
ISBN-10: 0-373-89603-4
December 2006

New York City and Vicinity ~ Present Day

Investment analyst Rachel Benjamin is involved in a killer deal, but she may kill her boss before it’s over. Glenn Gallagher is making Rachel and her colleagues, Jake Channing and Mark Anders, work overtime to seal a takeover of a company. Plus, Glenn treats Rachel like chattel. The more Rachel works for Glenn, the more her active imagination dreams up ways to kill him. Then Glenn falls over dead in front of her. The cops say it was murder. And Rachel is the top suspect.

When Glenn’s secretary is pushed in front of a train by a woman who looks a lot like Rachel, it’s time for Rachel to get concerned. She may have wished Glenn dead, but to kill him? She couldn’t hurt a fly. But that doesn’t stop her from going on the run to avoid arrest and searching for the real killer. Is it Glenn’s ex-wife, who was furious over his late child support payments? Or his current trophy wife who looked to be on the way out? Was the takeover deal they were all working on involved? Rachel is perplexed as she tries to keep ahead of the police.

This is my first Rachel Benjamin mystery, and I must say I’m wowed. Rachel is a definite New Yorker who is a fish out of water once she leaves Long Island. Her friends Emma, Luisa, and Jane, as well as Rachel’s fiancĂ© Peter, are there to help and provide support for Rachel, who’s confused as to why she’s a suspect. The clues are laid out for readers to assess and decide which are significant, and the pacing of the plot is smooth as Rachel leaves the environs of New York to the suburbia of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Readers will chuckle at Rachel’s child-like glee in going through a McDonald’s drive thru or finding a store that has big carts instead of the tiny ones she’s used to.

From the first page until the end, THE KEY enthralled me. The story is told from Rachel's first person point of view, but THE KEY is not a chick lit with a bored heroine. In fact, Rachel will never bore readers as she goes from one exciting scene to another. The suspense of who murdered Glenn and why is expertly executed and, in the end, I was surprised as to the killer’s identity. I can’t wait to head to my bookstore and pick up the previous two books in the Rachel Benjamin series.

It is stories like THE KEY that make it to the top of my ‘best of the year’ list and should be on yours. It’s a stimulating mystery, a funny story with well drawn characters, and an all around excellent read. For these reasons, I’m awarding THE KEY a highly coveted Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10. I suggest you choose a time when no one will interrupt you, as I guarantee that once you pick up THE KEY, you won’t want to put it down.

Patti Fischer

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