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Morgan Hunt brings readers a smart and sassy mystery story with her new book "Sticky Fingers," about Tess Camillo, a brainy database expert in San Diego, who takes on the role of amateur detective after discovering an unwelcome rattlesnake beneath her bed. Tess and her housemate Lana are complementary opposites reminiscent of "The Odd Couple." Both women are in their early 40s; Tess is a logical and linear-minded lesbian, while Lana is a ditzy and dreamy, straight massage therapist and Tai Chi instructor. Upon finding the dangerous snake, Tess calls Animal Control; they regard her reptile visitor as a mere accident until a venomous snake kills another gay woman. After this unfortunate death, the police question Tess, and she becomes motivated to conduct her own unique investigation.
Alyson Books (2007)
Reviewed by of Reader Views (6/07)
I had a sleepless night thanks to “Sticky Fingers.” First, the book was so good that I could not put it down until I found out what happened, and once I finished, I could not get the images of snakes out of my mind! Morgan Hunt’s wonderful writing style will engage you from the first page and keep you turning pages until the very end.
The main character, Tess Camillo, is just that, a real character. She is not a detective but a middle aged woman, employed in an okay job in San Diego. She shares a house with her ex-lover, Lana, and is currently not in a relationship. The current love of her life is her Welsh terrier, Raj.
The mystery begins when Tess finds a rattler in her bedroom. The police chalk it up to coincidence, but the story takes an ominous turn when someone else in the gay community is brutally murdered by a poisonous snake. As Tess becomes friendly with the murdered woman’s partner, Darlene, the danger increases and she becomes a target herself. Instead of scaring her off the case, she turns into an amateur detective who will not rest until she solves the mystery. I am usually good at figuring out “who done it” in mystery novels, but this story had so many twists and turns that I was surprised at its hair-raising conclusion.
Tess not only has to face her mortality when she faces snakes, but she also has a major health crisis that could end her life. Her naturally inquisitive nature helps her in researching her disease and her friends give her the wonderful support she needs in facing up to this health crisis. Morgan Hunt’s familiarity with breast cancer shows in the sensitivity, fear, strength and dignity that she gives to Tess throughout her ordeal.
The author, Morgan Hunt, has a wonderful sense of humor which comes through again and again through her quirky characters. I also had the feeling that the author and Tess share many similar qualities -- “Criminitlies!” is an expression that Tess uses throughout the book that seems to have no meaning. This is a great book. I highly recommend "Sticky Fingers" to all open-minded mystery readers. I would also recommend it as a great read to anyone recovering from cancer surgery. I definitely would not recommend it to anyone with a snake phobia!