PUTT TO DEATH by Roberta Isleib (Berkley $5.99)

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Cozy mysteries are usually not to my taste. So it was with some trepidation that I approached the third mystery by Roberta Isleib featuring Cassandra Burdette, professional golfer and amateur detective. I had problems with Roberta's first mystery, SIX STROKES UNDER. Specifically, I did not care for the character of Cassie and found it highly improbable that she would mentally be ready to attempt qualifying for the LPGA after being involved in the death of a fellow contestant. Pacing was also a bit of a problem. All of these issues have been successfully resolved as Roberta Isleib has written a very entertaining and clever mystery.

Cassie Burdette is hired as a touring pro at a country club in Connecticut, after floundering on her initial attempt to meet with success on the LPGA tour. One of her first duties requires her to stand on the tee of a par three hole challenging the foursomes passing through to hit the ball closer to the hole than herself. While waiting, she discovers a dead body in a patch of high grass. The police are called and it is soon afterwards that Cassie is told that one of her golf clubs were found near the body with blood on it. Cassie is therefore a suspect and now feels she must clear her name thereby giving her the excuse to try to figure out the cause of the death. After another dead body turns up, Cassie feels some real pressure especially when an attempt is made on her life.

My only real problem with this book is the need for a character list at the front. It is difficult to keep up with who exactly is who. However, with some effort, the character identification falls into place and the pacing of the story picks up quite nicely. I appreciated the need for Cassie to investigate the murders with her own reputation at stake. The character of Cassie was much more fully realized and much more sympathetic and likable to this reader. Suspects come and go and when the true killer is revealed, the solution is both clever and unexpected. The bottom line- a very good job by Roberta Isleib and a strong contender for best PBO at the Agathas next year.

Rating: B.

Larry Gandle
Deadly Pleasures

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