December 28, 2010

Review: Naked Frame by Robert Burton Robinson

Naked Frame
Author: Robert Burton Robinson
Series: Rebeca Ranghorn Mystery Series, Book 1
ISBN: 0011137134
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel provided by the author via LibraryThing.

For more information please visit Robert Burton Robinson's website.

Rebecca Ranghorn is wanted for murder. The dead man in her office has a bullet in his head. Her bullet. But she’s not the killer. At least she doesn’t think so. Rebecca is a private investigator working mostly cheating husband cases. She knows how to kick butt, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. In NAKED FRAME, her client is a mother wanting proof that her teenage daughter is having sex with a sleazy Dallas businessman, Big Bill Smotherburn. Once Rebecca shoots the video, the mother begins to threaten him.

Big Bill drops by Rebecca’s office unannounced, after hours, and tries to buy the video. But within minutes, Rebecca has passed out, warm pistol in hand, and Big Bill is sprawled out on the floor with half his face blown off. Rebecca had been pointing the gun at Big Bill, unsure of his intentions. But she’s sure she wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. She believes somebody framed her. She knows it’s only a matter of time before police discover the body, and come looking for her. It’s an odd time to reconnect with her best friend, Gabby, from high school. But he wants to help Rebecca.

The two of them will unravel the mystery. Or die trying.


Naked Frame by Robert B. Robinson is the debut in his new Rebecca Ranghorn Mystery Series. With an intriguing who done it, lots of seedy characters with motive and a great crime solving duo, this was a fun quick read at just over 100 pages.

Making this novel fly by so quickly was the adorable pair of main characters comprised of no-nonsense PI Rebecca Ranghorn and her cohort Gabby G'Blee. The banter between the two is engaging and instantly endearing. Their easy going relationship adds levity  to the novel that making it feel much more like a cozy mystery then a suspense thriller. Gabby's flamboyant nature perfectly offsets Rebecca's tough hard-as-nails demeanor as they try desperately to uncover who set her up to take the fall for Big Bill Smotherburn's murder. Like the main characters the suspects in the case are all wonderfully written. While we aren't privy to much back story in the novel, the attitudes and personalities still come through perfectly adding a colorful and dangerous cast to the story.

The settings are also quite unique. Take for instance Cafe Nue which is owned by Big Bill. The atmosphere is erotic with the female waitstaff roaming around in only a skimpy thong and has a bar complete with a winding waterfall resembling a urinal in a men's bathroom. This setting is well used through out the novel offering up several clues as to 'who done it' and becomes a motive in and of itself. Likewise, the various other locales are well set without going into great detail. Again with being such a short novel, there isn't a lot of time to set atmospheres and yet Robinson worked well within the confined parameters of his novel. Each was concise yet construed the proper atmospheres that seemed to mirror the characters, thus adding a faint glimspe at their 'natural habitat'.

The mystery itself is interesting with a never ending stream of suspects, all capable of murder and with ample motives. There are plenty of twists and side stories that keep you guessing and leaving you with the assumption you know how the story will end. Notice, I said assumption. In truth, the ending is rather complicated with various threads coming together to converge on the truth. The pace maintained throughout the sleuthing is fast, the side stories adding in to suspense and intrigue of the novel that keeps the reader interested.

The only bit I thought could have been worked on was the emotion within the novel. The characters are a bit aloof through it all. The excitement reads a bit like the moments when they are simply going over what facts they know for certain and throwing around theories. There's little since of immediacy even in moments that merit it. This is something that I would like to see get worked on a bit more, but while it separates the reader from the emotional appeal of the characters, it doesn't make the story any less mysterious and engrossing. If it was longer, well, then we might of hit a few snags.

Overall, this was a fun read that I got through in a single sitting. Unlike normal cozy mysteries, there is a bit more adult subject matter in this novel, so younger readers should beware. That said, if you like a good mystery and are in the market for a quick read, this is definitely a good choice.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some adult themes.

No comments: