Tangled Web UK Review July 1998
File Updated: 31/03/00
Bad Vibes Bad Vibes by Joyce Holms
pbk out March 99 (Headline) at 5.99
An elderly German tourist is found dead in an expensive Edinburgh hotel. The death is not thought to be suspicious, but Fizz Fitsgerald, a law student working evenings as a receptionist at the hotel is not convinced. Her doubts are confirmed when the dead man's sister turns up and demands the return of a painting which, she says, her brother had brought for her on the day he died. The painting is missing and the sister asks Fizz to find it and return it to her. Fizz, inevitably, ropes in Tam Buchanan to help her. He is the senior partner in a law firm which employs Fizz part-time as a filing clerk. But she is no ordinary filing clerk and has no difficulty in bending Buchanan to her will.
Fizz and Buchanan are an unusual duo. They are not bound by an interest in solving crimes and there would appear to be no romantic attachment. Indeed Fizz says at one point, "Shut me in the same room as that guy for twelve hours and I'd be at his throat with a serrated breadknife". Buchanan for his part has "never been one of her biggest fans". They come together as sleuths mainly through Fizz and her nose for a crime. She looks on Buchanan as an ally to be called upon as she thinks fit: "God created people like Buchanan specifically as fodder for people like Fizz". But he is a reluctant partner, though he is very concerned for her safety. Fizz carries all before her: "so innocent, so baby-faced, so trusting and so heart-wrenchingly vulnerable". When she cannons into a punter, "a glowering man in a Barbour jacket", at a race meeting, she gives him a sunny smile and receives "instant absolution". These two characters, Fizz and Buchanan, dominate the book, but mention must be made of the gay hotel chef, Johnnyboy, whose comments are often very funny: "She's been up and down all day like a whore's drawers"
Joyce Helms writes well and has a lively turn of phrase: "cute as an Andrex puppy" and "built like a piece of earth-moving equipment". I also liked: "She went down for a count of nine". This is her third Fizz and Buchanan mystery. I look forward to her next.

( John Boyles )