Mystery Scene Magazine

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"The greatest crimes are caused by excess and not by necessity.”

—Politics, Book II, Chapter 7 by Aristotle circa 300 B.C.; English translation, Aristotle’s Politics, 1885, by Benjamin Jowett

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Angel With a Bullet

by M.C. Grant
Midnight Ink, September 2012, $14.99

Dixie Flynn’s wisecracking attitude and unshakable tenacity are traits she puts to use daily as a reporter for NOW, San Francisco’s top alternative weekly. She’s knowledgeable about the city’s various neighborhoods, as well as many of the city’s eligible men—seeing as she’s dated quite a few.

So when former lover and rising artist Diego Chino commits suicide in his apartment, Dixie doesn’t believe the tableau that’s set up a little too perfectly. Dixie remembers Diego as being too arrogant and self-centered to take his own life. She’s even more suspicious when an art expert, who represents several high-profile collectors, arrives to cart away Diego’s latest work—while the police are still at the crime scene. Although the San Francisco cops mark the death as a suicide and her editor tells her to back off the story (because the newspaper doesn’t cover suicides), Dixie plunges into her own investigation, maneuvering through a chaotic art world where she finds double-crossing gallery owners and rampant counterfeiting.

Dixie’s sass and humor provide a lively beginning to Angel With a Bullet by M.C. Grant, the pseudonym of Scottish writer Grant McKenzie, but the author doesn’t know when to rein in his heroine. She foolishly shows up at remote buildings without telling anyone where she’s going, including her good friend, Detective Sergeant Frank Fury. And the backdrop of San Francisco devolves into cliché. Still, Dixie amuses readers with her self-deprecating wit and her spot-on thoughts about journalism and the changes in newspapers.

—Oline H. Cogdill