LINDA BARNES – Lie Down With the Devil. St. Martin’s Minotaur, paperback, August 2009; hardcover edition, August 2008.

LINDA BARNES Lie Down with the Devil

   A couple of negative reviews I came across recently of a recent Linda Barnes Carlotta Carlyle novel made me wonder if I would find my generally favorable opinion of the series affected when I read Lie Down with the Devil. I must say that I didn’t and thought it one of the stronger outings in a while.

   Carlotta’s personal life has always been a strong factor in the series, with her relationship with Sam Gianelli, the son of a Boston mobster family, and her little “sister,” Paolina, now a teenager with a troubled past, both complicating her none too stable professional life.

   Sam has fled the country under threat of arrest for some serious crime he refuses to discuss with Carlotta, and Paolina, after the traumatic events of the previous novel Heart of the World, has been admitted to Mclean Hospital, a prestigious (and expensive) private facility where she is under treatment and continuous supervision, and refusing to speak with Carlotta.

   Blocked from contact with both Sam and Paolina, Carlotta is persuaded by her tenant Roz to accept a case in which a young woman, soon to be married, is suspicious about her fiance’s activities, and wants him under surveillance to determine what he’s up to.

   Sensing something off center about the explanation the young woman gives her, Carlotta still accepts the assignment, only to find, when the young woman is killed, the apparent victim of a random hit-and-run accident, that she’s been conned by the woman, and the case is linked to the Gianelli family in a way that will profoundly change her life.

   Carlotta’s personal life may often take precedence over the investigations she undertakes, but her intelligence and dogged persistence in the face of daunting obstacles still make her one of the most richly conceived and intriguing protagonists in contemporary detective fiction.