Cover image for Blowing smoke
Blowing smoke
Block, Barbara.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Kensington Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
360 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Robin Light thriller"--Jacket.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



In the seventh installment of Barbara Block's critically-acclaimed mystery series, private investigator Robin Light sets out to uncover the truth about an elderly heiress' connection to an enigmatic stranger who may -- or may not -- be communicating with the dead.

With Syracuse suffocating under a shroud of relentless summer heat, Robin Light's exotic pet store business is slow -- and her semi-pro detective business is even slower. But Robin's seasonal tedium and her financial crisis are about to be remedied, thanks to a trio of adult siblings who are certain something sinister is simmering at their widowed mother's mansion.

Rose Taylor's children -- Hillary, Louis and Amy -- are convinced their inheritance is being squandered by their mother, whom they believe is the unwitting victim of a scam. The con woman in question: so-called pet psychic Pat Humphrey, who located Rose's supposedly kidnapped cat and won not just a substantial reward, but the woman's undying gratitude -- and a place inher will.

Assuming she's a fraud, Robin visits Humphrey, posing as a client seeking advice about her dog -- and comes away with startling evidence that the woman might just be the real thing. Then Pat Humphrey disappears -- just as the body of the Taylors' buxom maid is found floating in the swimming pool.

As the sizzling dog days unfold, Robin finds herself embroiled in a case that takes one shocking twist after another, as she tracks a cold-blooded killer.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Block's Robin Light, pet-store owner and part-time PI from Syracuse, returns in her seventh adventure, an intricately plotted story with red herrings galore. With a sizable inheritance at stake, Rose Taylor's three children, convinced that their aged mother is being victimized by a con artist who says she can talk to animals, hire Robin to expose the so-called pet psychic as a fraud. What sounds like an easy-enough job is complicated by the fact that the psychic seems unnervingly accurate. Rose also provides a very different interpretation of her children's concerns. Meanwhile, her decades-younger husband appears to be quite attracted to Rose's young live-in nurse. When the nurse is murdered, the psychic disappears, and the children turn out to be involved with drugs, transvestitism, and New Age cults, matters become quite muddled. The corking-good plot will keep you turning the pages until the very end. An outstanding addition to a wonderful series. --Stuart Miller

Publisher's Weekly Review

Established fans should welcome this seventh mystery (after 1999's Endangered Species) featuring Robin Light, the hard-drinking, sloppily dressed, heavy-smoking amateur sleuth and exotic pet-store owner from Syracuse, N.Y., but the uninitiated may find the plot tortuous and the plethora of characters too hard to keep track of. Robin faces a double challenge: locating a teenage runaway in nearby Cazenovia; and investigating an animal psychic, Pat Humphrey, whom three siblings suspect of defrauding their elderly heiress mother, Rose Taylor. Humphrey has won a place in Rose's heart (and will) by locating Rose's "kidnapped" cat; now Rose's much-younger husband and her lawyer hover over the old lady protectively. In the process of discovering that just about all the principals harbor secrets (one of Rose's children is a heroin addict, another a thief and transvestite), Robin is punched into unconsciousness, shot at several times with a rifle and held at knife-point. She also travels between New York and Wolfe Island, Ont., with no mention of Canadian or U.S. immigration or customs. On one page an automatic pistol turns into a revolver, while elsewhere a string of pearls, later described as knotted and hand-strung, breaks and cascades to the floor. Such careless slips won't bother most readers, but they do suggest why Block has yet to join the first rank of authors writing about contemporary female detectives. (July 9) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her seventh installment, exotic pet store owner and part-time sleuth Robin Light (Vanishing Act) meets a real challenge when the three children of an aging wealthy woman ask for help. They fear that their mother is being duped by a psychic and/or her much-younger husband, but then the psychic goes missing, and a body is found in the pool. A pleasing page-turner. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.