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Michigan Mysteries

An Unquiet Grave, P.J. Parrish, Pinnacle, $6.99.

An Unquiet Grave by P.J. Parrish

P.J. Parrish is one of the biggest bargains in mystery fiction. Her books are paperback originals - so you don't have to wait to read about her recurring character, Florida P.I. Louis Kincaid. Seven books in, this is a series that gets stronger and more compelling with every book. I thought Parrish's last effort, A Killing Rain, was terrific, but it's easily matched by An Unquiet Grave. Louis Kincaid is called from Florida back to Michigan by his foster father, Philip, who has a secret to unload. This is an author who combines the best of all parts of the mystery genre - she's able to balance a P.I. novel with a family story with, in this case, a gothic horror novel that includes a serial killer. Sound like too much? It isn't - it all flows seamlessly together, and kept me up reading far later than I had intended. Philip reveals to Louis that he has been visiting a grave for the past 16 years - the grave of his first love, Claudia. Claudia was buried at a mental hospital that's about to be razed, and Philip had wanted to move her body, but when the coffin is dug up, it turns out to be full of rocks. Louis agrees to search for Claudia's remains so they can have a decent burial, thus getting into far more than he had planned.

His Thanksgiving holiday with his beloved foster parents becomes fraught with tension as Frances, his mother, can't accept the fact that her husband has been visiting the grave of another woman for so many years, and Louis himself becomes almost a prisoner of the bad memories of the horrible life he had before he ended up with Frances and Philip. Tied into that is a complex investigation at the mental hospital - a very, extremely creepy setting - which kicks off when Louis and the last inmate find a brutally murdered dead girl in the woods. The more Louis digs the worse and more horrifying the story becomes, and the denouement, involving a series of tunnels that wind under all the hospital buildings - is truly scary. This is another wonderful effort by one of the best P.I./thriller writing teams in the business. Don't waste a minute in getting to know all about Louis Kincaid. (Robin)

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