Fifth Wheel

Reviewed by andy smart

Cassidy James, star of four previous books by Kate Calloway, undergoes a metamorphosis in this novel; from private eye to 20(ish) community college student. Her lover Maggie has deserted her for a previous girlfriend in Europe and appears not to be coming back. While there is no definite split Maggie is not phoning or making any noises about coming home. Cassidy is naturally distraught and needs a distraction.

One is put her way by her old friend, the Kings Harbour policewoman Martha Harpur. A serial killer is abducting young women, mutilating them, and dumping their bodies. Martha's suspicions lead her to suspect the drama department of Kings Harbour Community College and she persuades Cassidy to go under cover as the new teaching assistant to Prof Moore. After a new haircut and some style advice from thirteen year old Jessie about what to wear she is ready and willing for her new role. There a the `usual suspects' among the student body - all of them well created and up to Kate Calloway's usual standard - and the distraction of the beaufiful Proff Moore to keep her on her toes. I have to be honest and admit that I did guess who the killer was, but this was not due to deductive reasoning so much as guesswork and it could easily have been any of the others.

I enjoyed this book every bit as much as the other Cassidy James novels. I was sad to see Maggie Carradine go but truth be told I think that the author had `written herself into a corner' with their relationship and this was the most effective way of getting out of it; readers of the other novels know what I mean. Giving Cassidy a new start on the romance front with the possibility of Maggie returning in a future book to complicate matters is to my mind a sound move. The locations are interesting and the people believable, the book jacket says that Kate Calloway is a teacher - I wonder if it's in community college drama!

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