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Tuesday 13 December 2016

‘Deceptive Practices’ by Simon Wood

Published by Thomas & Mercer,
15 November 2016.
ISBN 978-1-5039-4038-3 (PB)

From the publisher:  Olivia Shaw grew up poor on the wrong side of the tracks, but with her thriving real estate business and a solid marriage, her life finally feels stable . . . until she discovers her husband is cheating.  Enraged, her sister offers a solution: Infidelity Limited, a firm that promises to rough up her husband and scare him straight.  Overnight, Olivia’s life is upended as she, like all of Infidelity Limited’s clients, is drawn into a dark web of blackmail and murder.  Now, Olivia is emerging as a prime suspect in her husband’s death.  As a dogged detective closes in, Olivia has only one option:  take down Infidelity Limited before it’s too late.

This newest book from Simon Wood grabs the reader from page one, where Olivia, now in her forties, discovers that her marriage of eight years is not what she’d thought, when she sees her husband literally in the arms of another woman.  The recommendation of her sister, Clare, older by three years and “the closest thing to a friend Olivia had,” despite their rocky relationship, feels like the right course of action, until of course it turns out to be anything but.  She is told by the aforementioned Infidelity Limited (“a discreet service that deals with infidelity issues”) and its owner, Roy (who was “in his fifties and had an ex-football-player look to him”) that they “tailor our approach to your specific situation.”  Or not.

Olivia is no stranger to widowhood:  Her first husband had died in a drunk-driving accident after two years of marriage.  Though there was no question at the time that it was an accident, it is only one more reason that the cops are looking at her as the prime suspect in the present situation, something which Roy had counted on.

As the book nears its denouement, the suspense and actual fear of what might happen next are palpable for the reader.  From that point on, the pages couldn’t turn fast enough.  I tried to imagine how the author would wrap this up, with an ingenious plot whose end I just couldn’t fathom.  To call the book a page-turner doesn’t do it justice.  I have loved all this author’s prior novels, but this outdoes the ones that came before.  Highly recommended.

Parenthetically, I was touched by the author’s dedication of the book to Royston, his beloved four-legged friend who died not long ago; he also manages to get him [well, his name, anyway] onto a page in the book – well done, sir!
Reviewed by Gloria Feit

Simon Wood A former race-car driver, licensed pilot, endurance cyclist, and private investigator, Simon Wood is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The One That Got Away, Accidents Waiting to Happen, and Paying the Piper. He has also penned more than 150 short stories. Wood has won the Anthony Award for his mystery fiction and was nominated for a CWA Dagger award. A native of the United Kingdom, he lives with his wife, Julie, in California.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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