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Margarita Nights by Phyllis Smallman

Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008 at 5:40pm

Her deadbeat husband is now just plain dead, and Florida bartender Sherri Travis is the prime suspect. Of course, publicly wishing your soon-to-be-ex-husband dead, right before the quarter million dollar insurance policy on his life kicks in, has a way of painting you into the suspect corner.

Phyllis Smallman was recently in Winnipeg to attend Thin Air, the city's international writer's festival. There I had a chance to hear her speak at the Pint of Bitter Murder crime fiction panel. It was the strength of her reading, as well as her answers during the question and answer portion of the evening, that led me to give her debut a try. I'm happy that I did.

Margarita Nights was the recipient of the first Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award. The prize was sponsored by publisher McArthur and Company; its jury sifted through mountains of unpublished manuscripts in search of Canada's next great crime writer. Phyllis Smallman may turn out to be just that. In Sherri Travis, she has crafted a spunky sleuth in the grand tradition of the whodunnit's amateur detective. Written in Sherri's breezy, colloquial voice, Margarita Nights offers more depth and darkness than its bright cover might suggest.

Categories: Reviews, Mystery & Crime

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