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Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
Carol Sabala, a private investigator, is hired for an unusual assignment. Wealthy Lucille Barnhart’s daughter, Megan Melquist, has left the country for Cuba. Lucille simply wants to know if she is still alive. Megan’s cancer is now metastasized, and she plans to try an alternative treatment, the venom of the blue scorpion. She is also escaping a sociopathic boyfriend. The year is 2001 and traveling to Cuba is a complicated, somewhat risky venture for American citizens. But Sloan’s Investigative Services has unpaid bills, and Carol needs the extra income. In Black Beans & Venom: A Carol Sabala Mystery, written by Vinnie Hansen, an exciting and perilous adventure unfolds. Working in a new culture, with a language she does not speak, staying in a shabby room in a run-down private home, and dealing with an assertive driver adds to the drama of the unusual request.
While the book is easy to read and the storyline flows smoothly, there are many additional interesting aspects. The description of Havana and the surrounding towns is fascinating; it is easy to visualize the city and its people. The main characters in the story are also intriguing. Carol is a dedicated, logical-thinking investigator and deals competently with new information and situations. Megan can be impulsive, as well as deliberate, in her decision-making. As the author reveals more about her family history, Megan’s actions become understandable. The scheming mindset of the sociopathic boyfriend is frightening. Author Vinnie Hansen has crafted an engaging mystery novel in Black Beans & Venom: A Carol Sabala Mystery. It is the seventh in this series, and every reader will want to read the entire set!