Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trash Course

Trash Course by Penny Drake

Terry Faye loves traveling the world while working as a private investigator. But this latest case is a doozy—and it's right here in Ann Arbor.

Two elderly recluses, Howard and Lawrence Peale, have stopped communicating with the outside world, and Terry and her boss have been put on the case. The catch: the Peales are hoarders. A clean sweep isn't going to be easy, even with cute photographer Zack Archer lending a hand.

The more digging Terry does in the Peale mansion, the more dirt she uncovers. And after she discovers two dead bodies, it's going to take a lot more than just elbow grease and a nice guy sidekick to find out what's happened...
--Trash Course by Penny Drake, Copyright ©2010, published by Carina Press

My Review

After busting a child-trafficking ring in Russia with her boss, Mrs. Hawk, Terry Faye is glad to be back home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When Belinda Harris arrives at their private investigation firm, asking them to look in on her two reclusive uncles, Terry is glad for a lighter change of pace.

When they arrive at Howard and Lawrence Peale’s home, they find a grand old home stuffed to the ceilings with junk. The uncles were hoarders, Belinda explained, and she was unable to find a way inside, but Terry found an unblocked door and they began to explore. Inside, working their way through the maze of junk, Terry and Mrs. Hawk stumble upon two bodies. One is Howard Peale. The other is…not Lawrence Peale.

They also find Zack Archer, a freelance photographer, interested in doing a story on the Peales. Terry, though very attracted to Zack, doesn’t fully trust him, even though Mrs. Hawk and Belinda seem glad to have his assistance as they search the house for any important papers the uncles may have left behind, and maybe something to help identify the unidentified man.

For there is treasure in the Peale house, and there are several interested parties in finding the treasure, not just Brenda and Zack. There’s Belinda’s criminal cousins from Chicago, and a certain Russian whose business took a serious hit lately… and Zack is hiding something, something Terry is determined to find out, before she falls even deeper in love with him.

Terry Faye is not your typical brave, fearless heroine nor is she a typical shrinking violet. She is brave, but she’s had to learn how to be brave. She gets scared, nervous and sometimes feels unsure of herself, but she pushes herself past those points and does what needs to be done. The fact that we get to “hear” her nervousness and how she talks herself through those nerves to do what needs to be done is refreshing and I really enjoyed that part of her personality. These are the traits that make a good hero…they have vulnerabilities yet they stick to the task and see it through. And having cherry cheesecake and an Orlando Bloom movie waiting for you at the end certainly helps.

Zach Archer is also a refreshing character. Early thirties and gorgeous, he’s a freelance photographer who’s interested in a potential story behind the Peale’s hoarding. He’s also interested in Terry, though he doesn’t go about pursing her with the bull-in-the-china-shop style that’s so prevalent in suspense/romance stories these days. Through gentle persuasion and charm, he wiggles his way into Terry’s heart. Though she’s reluctant at first, by the end of the story, she’s happy to have him there. Just in her heart, though. Their romance doesn’t go further than a few kisses, with a hint of more at the very end, and that hint is really all we need.

These two, plus the somewhat aristocratic Mrs. Hawk, Terry’s Russian friend Slava and the eccentric cast of supporting characters, including the junk-filled house and the town of Ann Arbor itself, plus a terrifically twisting plot and plenty of action, with a dash of romance to season, makes this story a delightful, fun read. I’m hoping for another Terry Faye/Hawk Enterprises story soon.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

Available as an e-book through Amazon (see usual link below) or Carina Press (click name to go to their web site).

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