Hotline to Murder

by Alan Cook

Reviewed by Cynthia Chow, Librarian, Kaneohe, Hawaii

In a departure from his senior citizen Lillian Morgan mysteries
Alan Cook introduces Tony Schmidt, an aging frat boy living
in Bonita Beach, California. Volunteering at a suicide hotline
to develop his communication skills and aid his job as a
marketing manager for, Tony discovers that
dealing with the emotional backlash of suicidal callers is the
least of his problems. Tony is uncomfortably attracted to the
seventeen year-old volunteer Shahla, and when her friend and
hotline listener is murdered Shahla pulls him into an
investigation despite his inclination to leave things to the
police. As the two track down their weirder callers and fellow
volunteers all the way to Vegas Tony must also cope with his
irritatingly immature roommate and confront his growing
suspicion as to his college friend's involvement with the murder.

Cook has created a very engaging hero in Tony, who realizes that
he has to grow up fast as he encounters the pain of the callers
and sees just how much that he himself has to lose. Shahla is at
times wiser than her years while still flashing glimpses of being
a teenage girl, and her impulsiveness nicely contrasts with Tony's
reserve. This is a very entertaining mystery that builds up speed
and takes the reader along to its surprising conclusion.

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