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Death Deals a Hand: A California Zephyr Mystery    by Janet Dawson order for
Death Deals a Hand
by Janet Dawson
Order:  USA  Can
Perseverance Press, 2016 (2016)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Death Deals a Hand by Janet Dawson could almost be a text book, but with her very precise method of describing the California Zephyr as well as the story that goes with it, this novel is well worth a read.

Death Deals a Hand follows Death Rides the Zephyr, the first of the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the prior book. As a mystery lover, I appreciated the story line. My friend, who is a toy train enthusiast but knows bundles about the bigger trains, loved it also. He is waiting, and not too subtle about it, for this new one. I read as fast as I could.

In April of 1953, Jill McLeod is a Zephyrette, with myriad duties, on board the California Zephyr on the way to San Francisco from Chicago. The Zephyr was a real train and as lush a ride as is described in this novel. Made me want to buy a ticket immediately. But I'm assured the train as it existed then is no longer available. Dawson's announcements about the scenery the train passed (which was broadcast on a loudspeaker system) drew me into Jill's character. She is able to meet any challenge that arises as the train click-clacks along the rails.

A passenger is shot to death and Jill is first on the scene. We meet many of the other passengers and wonder who could have held the gun. The book is a top-rate accomplishment. My interest in the plot never wavered. Didn't help me to decide who the killer was, though. Missed again.

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