Fourth Down

Reviewed by Andy Smart

This is the fourth (surprisingly) of Kate Calloway's Cassidy James novels, and is every bit as good as the previous ones. Cassidy is hired to investigate threats against the life of high-power businesswoman and lesbian activist Dr Allison Crane. This involves posing as Allison's new girlfriend on a team-building retreat in the Oregon wilderness. As this involves missing their anniversary Cassidy's partner Maggie is none too pleased, and would be even less so if she was aware that Cassidy was going to have to pretend to smooch with the gorgeous Dr Crane.

Unlike the previous books, Maggie Carradine does not feature in the main action. OK so I miss her but the book is as much about the need for Maggie to trust Cassidy not to be unfaithful as it is about the actual crime element. Not only does Maggie need to be able to let Cassidy go off on her own, but also Cassidy needs to know that she will not let Maggie down. As it has no bearing on who did it I feel 'allowed' to tell you that they are still blissfully together at the end of the book. Trust is actually a central theme of Fourth Down, as many of the women in it have either been let down or never dared to trust anybody.

The mixed crew of suspects, all staff of Women on Top, the group chaired by Allison to promote lesbians in business, make up the rest of the major characters. Kate Calloway is very skilled at creating good people to fill her novels and this lot are no exception. They range from ex-military butch football enthusiasts to a journalist with a Farrah Fawsett hairstyle, and one of them did it; as always no clues given here, but I promise you that you can work out before the end both who and why. I won't give it away, but I loved the ending, one of the most gentle and hopeful conclusions to a whodunit I've ever read. I loved it.

I found it a very enjoyable and affirming book.

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