Headline £18.99 Rel: April 2003
Reviewed by John Escott
Would-be actress and sometime private detective, Fran Varady, has grave doubts about the success of a production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, to be staged in the upstairs room of The Rose pub. She has agreed to take part but, judging by rehearsals, the do-it-yourself scenery, the tantrums of the rest of the cast and a director who appears to be cracking up, it has all the earmarks of a forthcoming theatrical disaster. But Fran soon has bigger worries on her plate.
All is not what it seems at the pizzeria where she has a new job as a waitress. Is the restaurant simply a front for some bigger, more felonious enterprise? Why doesn`t Luigi, the barman, want her going anywhere near the cellar? Why is Mario, the chef, lying about the young Romanian boy who has entered the country illegally?
The boy, Ion, has arrived in the UK after a long and dangerous journey in the back of a lorry. His brother, supposedly already in the country, fails to meet him and seems to have disappeared. Unwisely, as it turns out, Fran agrees to help Ion. In particular to look for the mysterious `Max`, the trafficker in illegal immigrants whom Ion overheard talking to the driver of the lorry.
After witnessing a shocking, sickening death, Fran enlists the help of her friend Susie Duke of the Duke Detective Agency. But it is soon clear that they are both in mortal danger themselves.
This is the fifth of Ann Granger`s Fran Varaday novels but the first I`ve read. The story has pace and humour and Fran is a credible and endearing character. I`ll be looking to read the other four.