Author:  Karen Dahood
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN:  978-1-4327-5344-3

Click Here To Purchase Sophie Redesigned: A Sophie and Sam Mystery

Why not live dangerously for a change, muses the byline of this  detective story from debut author Karen Dahood. And danger  is precisely what her protagonist Sophie George opts for, after a lifetime of quiet, uneventful living.

Sophie, a retired librarian  and bored inhabitant of a residential development for the elderly, yearns for intellectual stimulation as she spends her days exercising,  discreetly observing her neighbours and maintaining a cordial , if distant, relationship with her son. She is proudly computer-savvy, unlike her ‘pre-Internet’ friend Captain Samuels (“Sam”), a policeman she has helped with research on past cases. Appreciative of her skills at sifting information, Sam nonetheless gives her the brush off when she offers her services as a consultant to the police department. But
Sophie will have the last laugh, when a neighbour’s body is found in a nearby pond, and her keen observations help Sam make some headway in the case. Together, the duo slowly begin to piece together a mystery that grows progressively darker,  involving everything from carrier pigeons, vindictive Mafiosi, secret societies, reclusive tycoons and age old vendetta,   to cults and the elusive entity known as the “ghost of Serenidad”.

Not since Miss Marple has crime fiction boasted an elderly sleuth (without a background in law enforcement, that is), solving mysteries armed with little more than superior powers of observation and good old common sense. Stubbornly independent Sophie, with her no nonsense attitude, wry humour  and people -reading skills certainly seems like a fitting heir to the Marple legacy.

This is not a conventional, quick- paced mystery  with the usual tropes –  climactic confrontations between killer and sleuths, last minute rescues, violent shoot outs. Sophie does not defy death anywhere, or  whip out a gun and  mete out her version of justice. Rather, Dahood chooses to keep it real, plotting her  narrative at a pace comfortable to her heroine, and focused on the things she is good at -  observation, the assiduous pursuit of clues, rational deduction. At the same time, Dahood writes with energy, and deftly throws in enough twists, turns and red herrings to keep her readers hooked to the story.

The Sophie-Sam chemistry is interesting - their fractious exchanges, and her patient endurance of his often condescending remarks, do suggest deeper currents that I expect will emerge in future books. There is also enough left unsaid about her  past – a dead husband she never seems to think about, a distant son – and his, for Dahood to mine profitably  in Sophie and Sam mysteries to come.

Click Here To Purchase Sophie Redesigned: A Sophie and Sam Mystery