Five Star, Jun 2004, 25.95
In New Zealand, the eight person software team was heading towards major success for its American client when the key member David accidentally fell off a cliff to his death. His depressed teammates expect the effort to shut down and transferred to the States for completion. Widow Kelly Brandon makes a thorough search to find a replacement with the unique skills that David had, but no one comes close.
Out of nowhere, Californian John Celini surfaces with the same skills. John has been on vacation in New Zealand awaiting the word to apply for the job. After three weeks he surfaces saving the effort. Kelly starts having doubts about David's death after fellow mountain climber Joe Brennan visited and said that an experienced climber like the deceased could not have died accidentally. She wonders if someone murdered the superstar in order to replace him with his American stud, but cannot find even a remote motive as she makes inquiries into those near the cliff when David plunged to his death.
This is an entertaining amateur sleuth tale that at times is hard to follow because the reasons for John's assignment comes out very late in the tale making it difficult to accept a homicide occurred instead of a freak accident in spite of Joe's hypothesis. The need to learn what really happened and why grips the readers and keeps them turning the pages. Kelly is a pleasant protagonist who is falling in love with John, but mistrusts the way he conveniently showed up like the cavalry in a western movie. DEADLY DECEPTION is delightfully delicious because of Kelly, a wonderful lead character.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner