Cover image for Unwilling accomplice : a Munch Mancini crime novel
Unwilling accomplice : a Munch Mancini crime novel
Seranella, Barbara.
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Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [2004]

Physical Description:
289 pages ; 24 cm
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Munch Mancini and little daughter Asia are doing just fine. Munch rejoices in her job as an auto mechanic at the Brentwood Texaco. She and Asia have a house -- not in tony Brentwood -- and a dog, and Munch has been off drugs for years. She plans to stay that way. It's tough, though, when people from her old life resurface.Such a person is Lisa Slokum, Asia's aunt. Lisa has always meant trouble, and why should now be any different? It seems she has bolted from the Witness Protection Program with her two daughters, fifteen-year-old Charlotte and eleven-year-old Jill, and she needs Munch's help.Would that it were so simple. Munch will need to call upon Rico Chacón, a fine cop but not-so-fine boyfriend whose commitment to her on the nonprofessional side seems to be wavering. And before Munch can sort out her love life she must try on the role of auntie to Asia's new cousins -- not easy when the teenaged Charlotte goes missing and her mom, Lisa, lands in jail.Why did Charlotte run away, and where is she now? Is she in danger of becoming one of Hollywood's lost street children? Does she have information about the recent death of school friend Steven Koon? And why was a lock of her hair found stuck to a piece of duct tape in a ransacked storage locker? Munch must unravel the mystery of young Charlotte's complex life before it's too late to save her. To do that, she needs help from Rico, who's investigating the Koon boy's death. Will their professional alliance rekindle their romance? Should she take him back? Does he want to come back? Can she trust him?With its pulsating suspense and penetrating look at family relationships and the universal need for love and affirmation, Unwilling Accomplice is the best yet from a versatile author whose passionate voice shines through her fast-moving prose.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Munch Mancini, the struggling heroine of this series, is so powerfully depicted, with such exquisitely telling detail, that she seems drawn directly from life. Mancini's background emerges slowly; readers will feel as if they are getting acquainted with someone they met at the store or the park. Munch is a garage mechanic and sometime limo driver in Santa Monica (this novel, the seventh installment, takes place in 1985) who often alludes to her past as a junkie, alcoholic, and street person. She now has the kind of happiness that thrills because it was entirely unexpected; you can almost hear her drawing in her breath at her luck. Munch has an adopted daughter, some other wrecked couple's cast-off but Munch's life-preserver. Her hard-won happiness is broken by a phone call from her daughter's aunt, who wants the girl to meet her cousins. One of the cousins, a Goth teen girl, goes missing soon after the meeting. Munch is drawn into finding the girl and discovers a ring of exploited and endangered children and teens. Seranella does not cheapen her mysteries by giving her main character remarkable powers of detection; Munch is an intelligent yet ordinary woman forced to use every contact and every ounce of intelligence she has to figure out what's going on so she can preserve her own life. Beautifully written and harrowing. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Miranda "Munch" Mancini has seen, done and survived just about everything in her short, hard life. Now, in Seranella's stellar seventh novel (after 2003's Unpaid Dues) about the Los Angeles mechanic, she has with luck and pluck achieved close to a normal life with her precocious and happy eight-year-old adopted daughter, Asia. But a phone call from Lisa, the "lazy, ornery, selfish" sister of Asia's late father, a one-time lover of Munch's, heralds a drastic intrusion. Lisa and her daughters, 15-year-old Charlotte and 11-year-old Jill, have left a witness protection program and want to see Asia. They bring a world of trouble with them. Soon Lisa is in jail, Charlotte is missing and Munch is coping with Jill as well as Asia while trying to track down a modern-day Fagin who will kill to protect his racket. Munch will have to call on several old friends, including ex-boyfriend and homicide cop Rico Chacon, in order to find Charlotte and protect her own. Avoiding preachiness and platitudes, Seranella expertly contrasts Munch's past life, her present one and her hopes for the future. Vivid and compelling storytelling coupled with a complex and convincing heroine should expand Seranella's readership even further. (May 11) Forecast: Blurbs from Sue Grafton and Harlan Coben on Unpaid Dues, together with local support (an earlier title in the series, Unfinished Business, was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001), should boost expand Seranella's sales base. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved