Dashiell Hammett described his detective Sam Spade as the kind of detective other ones wanted to be, "A hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client." Merline Lovelace's Sam Spade fits that description. But, USAF Lieutenant Samantha Spade is the sleuth in Lovelace's Now You See Her.
Samantha is a bit of a rebel, not good at taking orders, which is why she ended up evaluating small projects, doing military testing for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Resarch Projects Agency. Spade's team is stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they test odd gizmos and gadgets to determine their military use. And, Sam was doing a little unauthorized testing when she spotted a killer.
She was supposed to be meeting her boyfriend, Border Patrol Agent Jeff Mitchell, but Mitch was held up, so she was playing with set of experimental goggles when she spied a man with a gun hiding behind a van. Despite Samantha's yells, the man shot out a windshield, but the woman driver mowed him down. Everyone thought Army Sergeant Diane Roth was a heroine, but Samantha was suspicious when it turned out Diane knew the man. And, Diane kept a few secrets from the investigators. Maybe Roth shouldn't have tried to hit on Mitch. Lt. Samantha Spade was angry enough to agree to assist in the investigation.
My mind boggled a little at the technical jargon involved in Spade's job testing military equipment, but it's easy to skip the technical stuff. Lovelace's Sam Spade is an energetic, fascinating sleuth. And, Lovelace, who was a career Air Force officer, knows how to ratchet up the action and suspense. If you're looking for a fast-paced, action-packed story, with a tough female sleuth, it's hard to top Now You See Her.
Merline Lovelace's website is www.merlinelovelace.com
Now You See Her by Merline Lovelace. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2010. ISBN 9780425234761 (paperback), 232p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me the book, in hopes I would review it.