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Chutes and Adders
by Barbara Block

Category: Fiction / Mystery
320 pages; ISBN: 0821749978

Rating: 6/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Kathryn Lively


Even on my worst day, I would not want to trade with Robin Light for the time she is having as Chutes and Adders opens. Recently widowed and fending off strong advances from a local real estate kingpin who wants the land underneath her pet store, Robin gets the shock of her life when an employer is bitten by the contents of a deadly package package delivery, a saw-scaled snake. Greetings from the Unasnakecharmer, no doubt.

Local police, however, aren't laughing, and immediately Robin is fingered as the prime suspect. Officers Lorenzo and Cunningham, in particular, have made a hobby of riding Robin's tail, prompting Robin to launch her own investigation for the purpose of clearing her name. Her search unearths a shady side operation spearheaded by her late husband, the Santeria culture of Syracuse, and the revelation that most everybody Robin needs to talk to is turning up dead or injured to the point to death and unable to talk. Like I said, my worst day doesn't sound so bad.

Unfortunately for Robin, she seems to me to do almost everything wrong. I'm guessing Ms. Block wrote the character like this on purpose: a panicky redhead who confronts people head on without first playing the sly sleuth and gathering evidence. Maybe it's all those chocolate bars Ms. Block has her character eat. Many times I had to shake my head as Robin did something that likely would have made it easier for the police to pin the murders on her; some readers may find this behavior part of Robin's charm. I, anal retentive person that I am, found it plain aggravating.

Not to say I did not like Chutes and Adders; I found the book a quick read, as well as amusing as Robin sank deeper into trouble with each chapter. I do admit I was stumped at the revelation of the true killer, and that accounts for something when reading a mystery. Readers into a lighter read with a bit of scatterbrain action should consider seeing the Light.


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