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A Witness Above    by Andy Straka order for
Witness Above
by Andy Straka
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2001 (2001)

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

A Witness Above is the first in a new mystery series about Frank Pavlicek, a former NYPD policeman. He has moved to Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife and daughter after leaving the New York force under a shadow following a questionable shooting of a black youth. He now works as a private investigator and is divorced from his wife and somewhat estranged from his daughter. Frank's former NYPD partner Jake Toronto has also moved to Virginia, and both of them have taken up the fascinating hobby of falconry.

As the title indicates, falconry comes into play when Frank and his red hawk Armitage stumble on the decaying corpse of Dewayne Turner, a local drug dealer, while they are out hunting for rabbits. Frank discovers his daughter's address in the dead boy's wallet and is drawn into this mystery, even more so when his daughter is suspected of involvement in the murder.

This book has garnered some good reviews and been nominated for an Agatha award for 'Best First Mystery' at this year's Malice Domestic conference. It does have both the interesting western Virginia setting and the unusual falconry angle. The plotting is also serviceable. However, the mystery is rather pedestrian and there is not enough use of falconry other than as a device to add some color. The author will need to improve the series to make it rise above the legions of new books by other aspiring new mystery writers.

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