Friday, August 25, 2006

The Oxygen Murder

This is the eighth of Camille Minichino's Periodic Table mysteries, featuring retired physicist Gloria Lamerino. Gloria always provides lessons about the element featured, in this case oxygen in the form of ozone. But, I learned something that hadn't dawned on me as I read the earlier books.

Gloria is a middle-aged scientist, a woman who escaped into her lab when her fiancee died years earlier. Although she recently married a homicide detective, and is best friends with a couple than owns a funeral home, Gloria lacks some people skills. Quite often Minichino introduces a younger person into the scenario, a person who provides the people instincts and skills that Gloria lacks.

In The Oxygen Murder, Gloria, Matt and their friends Rose and Frank Galigani are in New York City in December. When Gloria arrives at the apartment rented by Matt's niece, Lori, she stumbles upon a dying woman. Lori and Amber, the woman in Lori's apartment, were working on a documentary film dealing with ozone depletion and problems in the workplace. The scientific connection gives Gloria an opportunity to pry into the story behind the murder. However, in this case, she's out of her element in New York City, where she seems to be flailing around looking for a solution.

Lori is the contrast to Gloria. She's a young woman, at home in NYC, and skilled in dealing with people. Once Lori overcomes her initial problems, she's an asset to Gloria's investigation.

I hadn't realized until this book that Minichino skillfully introduces characters to balance Gloria, who at times can be one-sided. I've enjoyed the previous books, but I hadn't noticed the balancing of characters.

Minichino's stories are always educational, with Gloria's information about the elements. But, they are also absorbing mysteries, as Gloria, a scientist with a need for solutions, investigates murder as connected to the elements.

Camille Minichino's web site is

The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino. St. Martin's Minotaur, c2006. ISBN 0312347863, (hardcover), 244p.


Camille Minichino said...

You pinpointed my life, Lesa. Being a dull person, I surround myself with colorful friends!

Lesa said...

Well, Camille, I didn't say Gloria was you. You can't be one-sided because you write such interesting books, and you do introduce colorful friends for Gloria. But, I think you must be a little more well-rounded than she is.

Camille Minichino said...

I created Gloria deliberately that way. In my life, I'm very dissipated. I do many things other than physics, and have all my life. I wanted to create a character who had more focus than I do ... but then, as you insightfully point out, I needed to give her some more colorful friends!