San Francisco Bay Area P.I. CATHERINE SAYLER appears in a series of intriguing novels that deal with serious social issues which are intelligently presented in an informative yet entertaining manner. Catherine heads a San Francisco private detective agency specializing in corporate crime. It's a nice little agency, just starting to make a name, and a bit of money, for itself, and Catherine's surrounded herself with a good staff. Not as kooky as Kinsey, perhaps, or as driven as V.I., but a relatively well- adjusted modern women with a head for business and a nose for detective work.
Mind you, she comes about that nose quite naturally. Her dad's a retired cop, her former husband is a cop, and Catherine is ex-SFPD herself. Most of her work takes place in cushy executive offices and walnut-panelled boardrooms, a far cry from her cop days meeting nasty people in dark alleys and spending endless hours spent on a fruitless stakeout. Well, theoretically, anyway.
Somehow, nastiness always seems to rear its ugly head. Good thing Catherine can take care of herself. She's got a black belt in akido (and is actually qualified as an instructor) and while she's not too keen on guns, both her over-protective ex-husband, and her current lover, Peter, a rough-and-tumble private eye himself, deep into radical politics, have no such compunctions.
The New York Times has called Catherine "squeaky clean...dull" but her first novel, 1988's Random Access Murder, was nominated for an Anthony. So go figure. My take? Not quite as annoying as some of the new lady dicks, but definitely on the softboiled side. And although it all seems hopelessly dated now, Vampire Bytes (1998), focussing as it did on roleplaying games (and its effects on those who become obsessed with them), e-mail and the internet seemed very cutting edge at the time.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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