Spokane. Leavenworth. Bellingham. It seems that only places like that in Washington state can produce a private investigator hero named Edwina Zapata Schultz.
I can’t blame Elena Hartwell’s gumshoe-series heroine for renaming herself Eddie Shoes, but the anglo name covers up everything that is most interesting about her. The Jewish mother. The Latino father (Eddie thinks he’s Mexican, but she’s not actually sure).
As a PI, Eddie has great cases to solve. In the first book in the series, One Dead, Two to Go (2016), what she thinks is a standard cheating-husband case turns into a murder investigation when the mistress’s body is found in an abandoned building. The plot has all the twists and turns you could want, but what really stayed with me was Eddie’s relationship with her mother. Her poker playing mother who got kicked out of Vegas for counting cards and ends up on Eddie’s doorstep, her bleach-blonde-beehive hairdo kept firmly in place with mega-doses of Aqua Net.
Eddie’s mother is nicknamed Chava (it’s not a gumshoe series without nicknames, right?) and she certainly does chafe on Eddie. But she also turns out to be exactly what Eddie needs, with her velour tracksuits, blown credit rating, and that fact that she is a mere sixteen years older than Eddie. Her ability to see past poker faces and knowing her way around casinos come in handy, but we really know she’s a keeper when an immense mastiff-mutt saves Eddie from drowning, Eddie decides to keep him, and Chava takes to him like he’s her new kid. Even though the dog sheds like crazy. I keep thinking Eddie should use her mom’s Aqua net on him.
Hartwell continues her humorous updates of classic noirs with book two in the series, Two Heads are Deader Than One (2017). In this installment, Eddie Shoes is confronted with her own femme-fatale: her best friend from her school years, Dakota. Dakota is the kind of drama queen that draws you in like a moth to a bug light, and like the moth, the minute you get too close, you get zapped. Each story she tells is more of a whopper than the last, but Eddie is loyal and goes out of her way to solves Dakota’s stalker problem (even though Dakota gives no details, and those she does give are lies). Eddie stays loyal even though two dead bodies show up, both with Eddie’s business cards on them.
Dakota is fascinating, but she is completely upstaged by the re-appearance of Eddie’s tall, dark, handsome and mysterious father, Eduardo Zapata. Eduardo works for the mob, which is why he disappeared to begin with, but now he’s back, and very useful to have around, too.
We see a lot more of Eduardo in the newly-released book three, Three Strikes, You’re Dead (2018). Chava is still living with Eddie, but she’s got a job at a local casino and she’s driving a fancy red Mazda Eddie got as payment in book 2. She decides to take Eddie on a spa vacation. Everything’s lovely until Eddie goes for a hike, gets caught in a brush fire with a wounded man who dies in her arms — but not before hiring her to find his kidnapped daughter. Eddie survives the fire with a nasty burn on her head, but her brush with death brings her father running. Now the three of them go about solving the case, the proceedings enlivened by every new detail Eddie learns about her past from her father. Three Strikes is well-paced, hard to put down, and there is a delicious red herring that I will let you discover for yourself.
One detail that has tantalized from book one and still tantalizes is Eddie’s relationship to homicide detective Chance Parker. Well, Chance is an ex, but he’s transferred to Bellingham. Everyone, including Eddie, are just waiting to see what kind of brush fire is about to flare up between them.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT THREE STRIKES
Three Strikes, You’re Dead gives us another vivid adventure with the quirky, genuine private eye Eddie Shoes. As usual, author Elena Hartwell’s characters are so real you feel like you could run into them at your local dive bar. Three Strikes takes us even deeper into Eddie’s complex family relationships with her charming-but-deadly father Eduardo and hilarious mom Chava, giving us further insight into Eddie’s psyche. The laugh-out-loud moments are many in this vital third installment, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could stay longer in the world of Eddie Shoes.” -USA Today bestselling author LS Hawker
“Three Strikes, You’re Dead is an exciting ride with a likable protagonist and a wonderful cast of supporting characters. If you enjoy your mysteries with suspense and a touch of humor, this book is for you.” —Catherine Bruns, USA Today Best Selling Author of the Cookies & Chance Mysteries.
WHERE TO FIND EDDIE SHOES
ABOUT ELENA HARTWELL
Elena Hartwell was born in Bogota, Colombia, while her parents were in the Peace Corps. Her first word was "cuidado." At the age of nine months, she told two men carrying a heavy table to be careful in their native tongue. She's been telling people what to do ever since. After almost twenty years in the theater, Elena turned her playwriting skills to novels and the result is her first book One Dead, Two to Go, followed by Two Heads Are Deader Than One and now Three Strikes, You're Dead. For more information on Elena, please visit elenahartwell.com or like her Facebook Page ElenaHartwell/Author. You may get to see cute pictures of her dog and her horses.
FEARLESS BLOGGER TOUR
This blog is part of a tour organized by the International Thriller Writer's Association FEARLESS BLOGGER tour. The Fearless Bloggers were created by Alison McMahan to help new thriller writers who were members of ITW promote their work. Blogs are written about new thrillers by thriller writers. All work is done on a volunteer basis. Elena Hartwell is one of our bloggers. Other blogs in this tour include:
- Michael Niemann
- One Dead, Two to Go in The Big Thrill
- Two Heads Are Deader Than One in The Big Thrill
- Three Strikes, You're Dead in The Big Thrill