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Dead End    by Judith Skillings order for
Dead End
by Judith Skillings
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Rebecca Moore runs a classic automobile restoration shop in rural Maryland. It was inherited from her uncle, and its employees are allegedly reformed ex-convicts. But have they really reformed? That question arises when Rebecca discovers a nude dead body inside one of her machines. Who was he and who did him in?

Judith Skillings' debut mystery Dead End moves at a good clip with lots of action. Rebecca is battered to a pulp at one point, and her restoration shop is closed with yellow crime scene tape. Can she get two exotic cars ready in time for the Paris-to-Peking race? The financial health of her business depends on this. The car owners figure strongly in the plot and raise some questions about themselves. Other characters involved in this mystery include a D.C. police detective, a local lawyer, the victim's widow, a prominent judge, and a truly dislikable red-neck sheriff.

This is a fast-moving book that holds the attention to the very end. It has a touch of everything anyone could want in a mystery - bloodshed, mayhem, adultery, murder, intrigue, suspicion, with a possible romance thrown in for good measure. Dead End is a very readable first book.

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