KAREN KIJEWSKI – Honky Tonk Kat. Kat Colorado #7. Putnam,  hardcover, 1996. Berkley, paperback, 1997.

   I think Kijewski is in the  group (along with Barnes, Grant, and Rozan) of female PI writers just below Muller and Grafton, and ahead of Paretsky and everybody else. My only quarrel with her lies in her seemingly gender-linked trait of endowing her heroine with obnoxious friends and/ or relatives.

   A childhood friend of Kat’s is a country and western star now, and she’s got troubles. Someone is sending her notes that are disquieting and vaguely threatening, and she wants Kat’s help. She’s not being very forthcoming about her past, though, and Kat is having a hard time getting a handle on it all. There’s an abusive ex-husband, a father that vanished when she was two, and a cousin who’s popped up from out of nowhere who wants to be a star, too, and who knows what else. Then someone is killed.

   Interesting that Kijewski and Muller both chose a country and western star background for their latest, though there aren’t many other plot similarities. This is a good, solid PI novel, of a piece with Kijewski’s earlier work except for a welcome lessening of Kat’s personal problems and the presence of her aforementioned obnoxious friends and relatives. See, Karen? You can do it.

   Good first-person narration, interesting background, good book.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #26, July 1996.


      The Kat Colorado series

1. Katwalk (1989)
2. Katapult (1990)
3. Kat’s Cradle (1992)
4. Copy Kat (1992)
5. Wild Kat (1994)
6. Alley Kat Blues (1995)
7. Honky Tonk Kat (1996)
8. Kat Scratch Fever (1997)
9. Stray Kat Waltz (1998)