Double Indemnity
by Richard Zappa
AIA Publishing

"Crowder had her doubts too, and she spoke before he could say more. 'Alex, it's not what happened last night that should concern us, it's what is going to happen tomorrow that should.'"

Jo Crowder, an attractive thirty-six-year-old, works in the homicide division and isn't afraid of her job. She has a long list of kill numbers, and more than once, she has been accused of using lethal force and sent to the board to defend herself. Crowder suspects that Heartland Insurance, which buys life insurance policies and collects the proceeds after their clients' deaths, is covering up something sinister. After discovering that Heartland has a suspicious number of clients, all suddenly deceased, Crowder and FBI Special agent Alex Hill uncover the insurance company's evil connections with a research lab testing their experimental serum on animals. However, to prove they are right, Crowder and Hill must put themselves in grave danger and break a few laws along the way.

Zappa is a skilled storyteller, and fans of crime novels will find a lot to love here. As a trial lawyer himself, Zappa brings a sense of authenticity to his plotline as well as to all matters of crime in the novel. The characters are well-drawn and believable. Crowder's character as a take-no-prisoners homicide detective is convincing, and her work ethic is easy to admire. While finding a crime novel with a lead female detective is not as difficult as it used to be, it still makes a nice change from the standard, male-dominated genre. Despite their unconventional actions—and even illegal ones—Hill and Crowder both prove to have strong moral compasses. The mounting body count and seemingly endless twists and turns in the story create an exciting, rapid pace that keeps the reader focused and interested. The dialogue is easy to follow and rings true throughout the book. Overall, this is a well-written and exciting novel that builds to a satisfying final conflict while also leaving room for another book in the series.

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