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Originally published Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:37 AM

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‘The Mystery Woman’: pistols, the paranormal and raising the dead

Seattle author Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz) combines suspense, romance and the paranormal in her latest installment in the “Ladies of Lantern Street” series, “The Mystery Woman.” Quick/Krentz signs books Tuesday at Seattle Mystery Bookshop.

Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance

Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz)

The author of “The Mystery Woman” will sign books at noon Tuesday April 23 at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, 117 Cherry St. Seattle (206-587-5737 or seattlemystery.com).

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‘The Mystery Woman’

by Amanda Quick

G.P. Putnam’s Sons 368 pp., $26.95

We first meet Beatrice Lockwood when the heel of her high-button boot skids across a stream of blood on the floor outside her employer’s office in Victorian-era London. Finding her mortally wounded mentor inside, Beatrice realizes she, too, is in danger, and reaches for the little pistol she keeps in a thigh holster beneath her voluminous skirts.

It should be abundantly clear by now that the “The Mystery Woman” of this book’s title is no wimp. And that will be no surprise to readers of Amanda Quick, who — as fans of Seattle author Jayne Ann Krentz already know — is Krentz’s nom de plume for writing historical fiction with strong women protagonists. The action takes off in the opening pages of “The Mystery Woman,” and the plot twists keep on coming. So does the colorful cast of characters, which Beatrice later wryly describes as “blackmailers, killers, and the odd madman or two.”

Not all the figures in this novel are malevolent, to be sure; “The Mystery Woman” is part of Quick’s “Ladies of Lantern Street” series, dealing with an agency of resourceful and witty women who use their intuition and their paranormal senses to investigate crimes and conundrums. And then there is Joshua Gage, an enigmatic figure who was scarred and lamed in a near-fatal encounter during his service as spy to the Crown. A series of events leads Gage to believe Beatrice is blackmailing his sister; when Beatrice proves otherwise, the two join forces — professionally and then romantically — to discover the identity of the real blackmailer.

The blackmailer is not the only one being sought: a murderous scientist obsessed with Egyptology believes Beatrice is the only one with paranormal powers sufficient to revive his dead inamorata — who is preserved in an embalming solution in a crystal-topped sarcophagus.

Krentz skillfully knits all these plot threads together in a fast-paced, suspenseful narrative that is also a touching love story.

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