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Krapp's Last Cassette    by Anne Argula order for
Krapp's Last Cassette
by Anne Argula
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2009 (2009)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Krapp's Last Cassette is the third (following Walla Walla Suite) in Anne Argula's crotchety cozy series starring menopausal PI Quinn. This ex-cop from Spokane has lived in Seattle since ditching her ex. She has an office in the Pioneer building, lives in a nearby apartment, and befriends three perpetually drunken Indians who hang out under a pergola across the street, and watch her back when they get the chance.

The story opens on a bizarre murder, the corpse inserted into a work of art in Seattle's new Olympic Sculpture Park. Then Quinn, suffering severe hot flashes, is flown first class to Hollywood to meet with her new client, 'a heavy-hitting screenwriter with the unfortunate name of Alex Krapp.' In his sixties, Krapp immediately attracts Quinn - 'it was something at first sight, I don't know what; a catching of the breath, a little hurt where there was no wound.'

Krapp wants Quinn to find a young boy named Danny and discreetly investigate his situation. Krapp is writing a screenplay for an HBO documentary based on Danny's book about his heartbreaking life - they talk every day but have never met. Danny, a courageous prodigy with a big heart, is dying of AIDS, caught during a childhood of regular sexual and physical abuse. He escaped this horrific life with help from Celeste, a crisis hotline volunteer. Now she cares for him, with help from a doctor, Vic.

As Quinn listens to Krapp's cassettes of all his conversations with Danny and digs into the boy's reported life, she doesn't find an abused child, but she does identify links to a previous case, that of serial rapist Randy Merck, now in jail. Merck was abused in similar ways as a child by birth parents who were part of a Satanic cult (Celeste has told Krapp that Satanists still seek Danny). Quinn also discovers the identity of the woman found in the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Is Danny real or not? Read this noir cozy, wonder along with Quinn, follow her investigation, and form your own conclusion. As in Argula's previous books, Krapp's Last Cassette is an unusual and haunting mystery.

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