I first came to lesfic through mysteries, with Katherine V. Forrest, Clare McNab, Val McDermid, and a few others, as my guides. Along with Karin Kallmaker when I found romance a few months later, Forrest is one of the authors who helped me grow, become who I am. While I read all the Kate Delafield books back in the day, Delafield is book ten in the series and I went in knowing I hadn’t read the one right before it, released some nine years ago, and not sure how much I remembered from the previous ones. Did it matter? I feel like I’ve known Kate Delafield my whole life.
I won’t lie, I was a bit lost at first. I wasn’t sure whether the case that had Kate fear for her life was one from a previous book or not. As soon as I decided that it didn’t matter, Katherine V. Forrest’s writing pulled me in, as she used to.
Kate Delafield is a fascinating character. We wouldn’t be friends, I’d be way too intimidated and I’m not sure she’d have the patience for my awkwardness. I do, however, have huge respect for her, even as her stubbornness makes my eyes roll to the other side of my head. Besides all the adjectives that come naturally when thinking about a famed police detective whose professionalism and finesse are established and praised, “dry” is the word that kept springing to mind. Which is ironic, seeing as Kate’s struggle with alcohol is one of her defining traits. She’s not cold, she’s not unloving, she’s not uncaring, quite the opposite, but she never lost that stiffness, that dryness, that comes from years in the military and even more years in the closet. This sensation is intensified by the fact that she’s now living in the desert.
While this book was a real trip down memory lane for me, all the more so as there are many mentions of the second book in the series, Murder at the Nightwood Bar, Forrest’s writing is still as precise, still as keen as it was when I first read one of her books almost thirty years ago. It’s at once complex and accessible, as are her characters, the plot, the atmosphere. The addition of Dakota the dog brings easy warmth to a bittersweet story of love, mistakes, redemption, and forgiveness. If you’ve never read any of her books, you definitely should.
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