Overkill Review
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Forty-seven-year-old Emma Streat is trying to put her life back together. Her husband murdered, her Boston house destroyed, and her younger son off to college, she’s on her own. Finding a new home and trying to figure it all out will have to wait, though, after she receives a desperate phone call that takes her to Venice...again.

The voice on the other end of the line is her niece Vanessa’s assistant, Cathy. Vanessa, a well-known opera singer, wants to give up her career to fly off to Sardinia with Seth Barzalon, an arrogant and wealthy race car driver. So Emma flies to Venice, where Vanessa is performing in a benefit recital, to try to change her mind.

As Emma goes to her room, she and Cathy find Vanessa’s accompanist dangling from a curtain cord. In order to leave the country during the investigation, Emma reluctantly solicits the help of the British agent who helped to find her husband’s murderer—and with whom she later had a brief affair. However, her problems don’t end in Italy.

On the flight home, Vanessa contracts a severe fever, which could be the avian flu. Meanwhile, Emma is summoned to London to answer questions about what happened in Venice, and she soon discovers that Venice could be a hub in an underworld market for stolen viruses.

Overkill is a thrilling story about international intrigue and the medical world, with some sexual tension sprinkled in. Not only does Emma have to safeguard her life at every moment, as multiple murderers abound, but there are plenty of other surprises in store, too—including a shocking (but well thought-out) ending.

The characters, meanwhile, are strong and believable, and they’re not the usual characters that appear in most mysteries. The heroine, Emma, is portrayed as a contemporary middle-aged woman who’s intelligent, though she still has her flaws. She uses her acute logical reasoning to come up with clues that the formally-trained detectives often overlook.

Overkill is the second Emma Streat mystery but the first one that I’ve had the pleasure of savoring. I’m looking forward to reading the first novel, Without Warning, to experience the intrigue surrounding her husband’s murder. I hope that this engaging protagonist continues to find more opportunities to use her investigative skills. She may have to consider becoming a professional sleuth, since one person can only stumble into just so much bad luck.

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