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Always Time to Die
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Ann Maxwell has written over 60 books in multiple genres; as Elizabeth Lowell (Die in Plain Sight), she creates dialogue with immediacy and emotional coloration that sets her apart from the romantic suspense pack. Her 10th outing as Lowell begins with the tidy murder of "The Senator," the ill and infirm patriarch of a prominent Taos, N.Mex., clan. Carly May, a genealogist/historical researcher, is commissioned to write a family history by a disgruntled family member who hopes she'll dig up dirt. As Carly's research starts in earnest, she meets, among the Senator's many legitimate and illegitimate children, Dan Duran, a former CIA-like operative who, she finds out (but the reader knows all along), is the Senator's illegitimate grandson. Carly gets dire threats, she and Dan get close, and more people die. By combining new techniques of DNA testing with old-fashioned research and detective work (lots of appealing New Mexican history comes into play), Carly and Dan finally discover the truth about the family. But readers will care less about that than about their many charming exchanges, which Lowell crafts with sophistication and a sense of play. Quality and quantity may not be mutually exclusive after all. (July 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

As the sun begins to rise over Taos, NM, the already failing Andrew Jackson Quintrell III is murdered in his bed. Quintrell, also known as the Senator, is at the center of a controversy that pits his relatives against genealogist and family history specialist Carolina (Carly) May. The Senator's sister-in-law, Winifred Simmons y Castillo, has hired Carly to trace the Castillo lineage. It seems the Senator was quite the ladies' man (read: lecher), and numerous illegitimate offspring are ferreted out in the process. Mysterious local Dan Duran helps Carly research town newspaper archives, igniting a romantic spark among the rolls of microfilm. Lowell (Moving Target) seems to have lost her flare for drama and emotional depth, instead relying on drug smuggling, blackmail, political power-brokering, murder (several), and multigenerational incest to make up for a barely-there plot and wholly irredeemable characters. The genealogy angle becomes so tangled that readers will need to construct their own charts to follow who did what to whom-if they even care. Yet, Lowell fans are loyal; they'll probably request this. Otherwise, not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/05.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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