WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A HIT MAN MEETS HIS NEW MOTHER-IN-LAW?
Multiple Shamus Award winner Loren D. Estleman is "a superb stylist as well as a deft storyteller [who] paints his people and his city with acerbic wit and wry affection" (San Diego Union-Tribune). In Little Black Dress, Peter Macklin was a hit man for a long time but he has taken steps to distance himself from his tattooed past, like quitting the mob, moving away from Detroit, and marrying the gorgeous, intelligent Laurie. But retirement isn't easy for an ex-hit man.
Now the man accustomed to killing people in cold blood must adjust to a sadistic ritual of early marriage... he must spend time with his eccentric mother-in-law. This event takes an unexpected turn when Macklin discovers mom-in-law's boyfriend Benjamin Grinnell is a spotter for a gang of armed robbers. Unfortunately, Grinnell made a big mistake: he failed to spot a shotgun-toting shop-owner, whom the gang had to turn into red mist. Now Grinnell's life is threatened, and Grinnell's jeopardy endangers his sweetie... and Laurie.
Macklin, driven by his professional curiosity and his desire to protect his family, can't help but get involved. As Macklin investigates Grinnell's dark affairs, he inevitably gets tangled up with Grinnell's enemies, including the Ohio mob... and the law. All parties converge in a deadly shootout, with the lives of Macklin's loved ones and the fate of his marriage precariously hanging in the balance.
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The conflict at the heart of this intense, powerfully told story is almost Shakespearean: to protect the woman he loves, retired killer Peter Macklin must go back to his old life, knowing that in so doing he risks losing her. Peter and his much younger wife, Laurie, both yearning for a quiet existence, have come to her Ohio hometown to buy her grandfather's farm. The bucolic dreams quickly get dirty. Laurie's mother, Pamela, a bookstore manager, is dating a man whom Peter recognizes as a fellow killer. Peter's instincts tell him that an upcoming special event at the bookstore is the likely setting for trouble, and so he comes prepared to protect Laurie and Pamela the only way he knows--with the violence that Laurie abhors. Having unexpectedly found love in middle age, Peter is determined to shed his old life. But that requires keeping secrets from a woman with a fierce sense of honesty. She has already forgiven him once (in 2002's Something Borrowed, Something Black ); how far will love stretch? Estleman's extra-tight plots always demand attention, but this one has a structure that, while no copycat, somehow feels more familiar--up until the final bittersweet twist.