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Spotlight on: The Good Die Twice by Lee Driver

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The Good Die Twice by Lee Driver Lee Driver, The Good Die Twice

Author Lee Driver offers the first in the series of mysteries starring private investigator Chase Dagger--The Good Die Twice. Also on hand are his assistant (and landlady) 18-year-old Native American shape shifter Sara Morningsky and his scarlet macaw Einstein, who, through his sometimes inappropriate repetition of words, often knows more than he appears to.

Driver (who also writes Sam Casey mysteries under the name S.D. Tooley) starts the series with a bang as Dagger and Sara investigate a woman's murder that Sara witnessed during an outing as a hawk. She later recognizes the woman from a photo at a party as one Rachel Tyler, wife of Robert Tyler. The problem is that Rachel Tyler already died, five years ago. So Dagger and company are off and running to find out the truth.

Along the way, we meet Dagger's cadre of friends and associates--like Padre the seminary-student-turned-police-sergeant, Skizzy the paranoid jeweler, and Simon the mailman (who predicts something besides friendship in Dagger and Sara's relationship)--and learn more about Sara's unique history and abilities. These asides enhance the reader's feeling for the characters, enhancing the story instead of taking away from it. The relationship between Dagger and Padre is well-drawn and believable and Skizzy offers terrific comic relief through his mistrust of any and all public institutions, including doctors and grocery stores.

In addition to murder and humor, The Good Die Twice contains plenty of sexual tension, and the author is an equal opportunity ogler, offering as many (if not more) vivid descriptions of Dagger's fit physique as of Sara's various attributes. Living in such close quarters makes for some consistent effort on the part of both Sara and Dagger towards keeping their relationship platonic, and Driver lets us in on every inappropriate thought, however brief.

Chase himself seems as if he was lifted straight out of a romance paperback, with his long hair, all black wardrobe, single earring, and motorcycle-riding tendencies, and Driver has placed around him an appropriate plot, with enough family and relationship melodrama to fill a full season of any daytime drama. Dagger's ex-fiancee, Sheila (who just won't seem to catch on that she is his ex-fiancee), is a terrific source of this, but the Tyler family has their own eminently readable faults to serve up as well.

Having the macaw lead to the solution of the crime is forced but cute, and the rest of the book more than makes up for it with engaging characters, realistic dialogue, fast pacing, and a more than satisfactory conclusion. This is a combination of mystery, thriller, adventure, and mythological elements like nothing I've read since F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack series. I was even surprised by my own eagerness to continue reading. I really wanted to know what was going to happen; I cared about the characters.

I applaud Driver for her efforts and, after the exciting tidbits she gives regarding Dagger's past (and likely future) at the end of The Good Die Twice, I am even more eagerly looking forward to reading the next installment in the Chase Dagger/Sara Morningsky series, Full Moon, Bloody Moon.

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