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a twist of lemon

oranges and lemons

a twist of lemon
alex johnston

Oranges and Lemons, Liz Bugg; Published by Insomniac Press; Available in Paperback (2012)

The second book in Liz Bugg’s Calli Barnow mystery series finds her lesbian private eye recruited to go undercover at an ad agency in downtown Toronto, to try to *quietly* resolve a delicate matter of suspected embezzlement.

On the home front, she finds herself struggling with her feelings of ambiguity of about marrying her longtime girlfriend. As might be expected from a detective novel, the trail of paperwork quickly becomes a trail of bodies and before she knows it, Calli has a lot more immediate problems than pre-wedding jitters.

Calli is certainly likable, and intensely human (she speaks often about the worry stone that she relies on when nervous) with her personal issues and internal changes threatening to overshadow her detective work at several points.

Bugg is an easy writer with a pleasant style and good pacing. Her plotting is a little odd - there is a fairly radical change in tone and direction in the last, climactic quarter of the book. One has the sense that she wrote an initial draft that someone suggested didn't have enough thrills, and this was her response. It’s definitely a page turner, just a little jarring. 

Bugg’s real genius though, is in her supporting characters - an actor as well as a writer, she writes with a keen ear for dialogue and verbal tics that, when she’s at the top of her form, let her summon rich, living characters in a handful of lines without resorting to stock images or stereotypes.




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