A Pointed Death

First in the Pointer Mystery Series

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
354 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2012
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Author Biography

Kath Russell is the mystery series pen name for Katharine A. Russell. Russell also has published Deed So, a coming-of-age novel set in the Sixties, Buddy's Tail, a children's book about some wonderful dogs and Ghostly Tidewater Trilogy, a short story collection.

Before transitioning to a life of full-time writing, Russell enjoyed a rewarding career in the biotechnology industry. A seasoned executive with over 35 years in biotech marketing and communications management, Russell, founded RWWR Associates to assist startup companies with strategic planning and positioning. Formerly, Russell was president of Russell-Welsh Strategic Life Science Communications, Inc., a public relations practice she sold to Grey Advertising in 2000.

Prior to founding her own companies, Russell was senior vice president and a member of the operating committee of Cetus Corporation, one of the first biotechnology companies (now part of Chiron).

Russell received a BA degree in history from Northwestern University, holds an MS degree in journalism from Boston University and an MBA in marketing from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern. She also earned a certificate in creative writing through the U.C.L.A. Writer's Program.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joana James for Readers' Favorite

A Pointed Death is a riveting read. The strong female personality in the person of Nola Billingsley provided mystery, action and wit in one neat little package. The story is set in San Francisco and describes the city so beautifully that one is literally transported there even though they've never set foot there physically. Nola Billingsley is a 40-something year old Biotech consultant who lives with her mother. In the opening pages of the book, she can be found closing the doors of her failed dot-com. In an attempt to re-enter the world of consulting, she is thrown straight into the throes of a developing plot to take away freedom of reproduction from an entire nation. Nola's hotshot cop boyfriend issues several warnings, yet she is unable to resist the urge to sleuth. Using wit, intelligence and sheer manipulation in some cases, she unravels more than she can handle.

This book is filled with drama, romance, action, adventure, mystery and comedy. The plot is beautifully woven and every detail has its place. The antics of the lovable pointer called skootch will undoubtedly have the reader clutching their sides. The language is beautiful and effective and even the biotechnology jargon that has been skilfully inserted has its place. The reader will certainly not be lost in this one. The characters are very well developed and it is easy to build a relationship with them, even coming to love them. I highly recommend this read for the independent woman as well as her male counterpart who is not intimidated by a strong female character.

Joy H.

Since Nola Billingsley’s Internet business was a strike out, Nola started her old job as a biotechnology consultant. Lots of new companies were breaking out and she wouldn’t have problems finding work. And as it happens, Nola found herself more involved in her work that she ever imagined!

As Nola and her furry friend, Skootch E. Hurry, and yes that’s the dogs name, was out walking, they run into a body, or most of a body slumped over on a bench. And after tripping over the rest of the body, which was the head, she finds out that the body belongs to none other than her former employee who was stealing from her. This peaked an interest with Nola, sending her on a mission to find out who else her former employee had ticked off. And being around the handsome detective assigned to the case made her mission a little more enjoyable.

A Pointed Death is a great debut novel for Kath Russell, with fun and quirky characters that are sure to capture the reader’s interest. Nola’s character is fun-loving and enjoyable to read about. She is a strong and determined female, not letting anyone get in her way when she had work to do, not even the handsome detective friend, Harrison who demanded she stay out of the situation and let them do their job.

This book takes on a little romance, suspense, murder and a spoiled Skootch that will keep you on your toes, and keep you laughing throughout the entire book. A great book for anyone to read!

Anne B.

After 48 year old entrepreneur, Nola Billingsley’s dot.com business failed she turned to previous contacts in the biotech world to form a consulting business. She lived at home with her mother and dog Skootch E. Hurry. It was while she was walking Skootch that she discovered the disembodied head of Roger Chen, a former employee that embezzler a lot of money from her. This leads to her meeting Detective Bob Harrison in the fraud department of the San Francisco Police Department. Nola is pulled into the investigation partly out of curiosity and partly because of her romance with Harrison. While Skootch does little to solve the mystery he does discover the body and wins the heart of readers.

This book is written in the first person from the point of view of Nola. Kath Russell is a talented author with a unique talent for descriptive prose such as her description of Nola’s mother: “a vibrant eighty years young…survive depressions, wars, hurricanes, miscarriages and cancer…a displaced Southern girl who wields her accent like a passport.” I could see Janie Belle as though she was standing in front of me.

Russell’s book has it all, a great plot, fantastic characters, nice pacing, humor, mystery, intrigue, biotechnology, and a more than a tad of romance. I love the fact that the heroine is pushing fifty. It gets rather tedious for the hero to be young. I was surprised that this is Russell’s first book. She writes like a seasoned author. I look forward to more books by Russell

Stephanie D.

“This is a silly escapist book.” So says author Kath Russell of her novel A Pointed Death. But she sells herself short. Yes, it is escapist, in line with her intention in writing it, but it’s a brilliantly written book. Heroine Nola, is a 48 year old, feisty, professional woman with attitude. And a dog - Skooch the short haired pointer. He plays a crucial role in the story at various times. So too do cop boyfriend Harrison and various of Nola’s friends in the biotech industry. Nola’s former embezzling accountant, Roger Chen, is found murdered. Nola’s curious and her investigations bring her into contact with the Ancient Turtle company and Screen Leaf Biosciences. What’s the connection between them? What are they actually producing? Where does Chen fit in? And the Chinese government?

This is an entertaining, fast-paced book, with an interesting, well-thought-out plot and the romance we all enjoy. It’s not chick lit, but hen lit perhaps, given the maturity of the main characters. This makes a nice change. There are too many impossibly youthful part-time sleuths out there already. The cop boyfriend is maybe a touch predictable, but since he’s so gorgeous, that’s OK! The author says she wanted to give professional women something to read on long international flights to conferences or meetings. Well, everyone can enjoy her writing. The natural comparison to make is with Janet Evanovich, but frankly, I prefer this author. I will definitely be reading more in the Pointer Mysteries series.

Alice D.

"A Pointed Death" is a first-rate mystery with good suspense that builds and builds to the novel's last pages. It is also author, Kath Russell's tribute to women in the health care profession. Forty-something Nola Billingsley's dot.com, Timely Capsule, goes under and then Nola finds that her accountant, Roger Chen, has contributed to its downfall by forging company checks and making extensive use of the company's credit. Then Nola, who lives in San Francisco with her eighty year old mother, Southerner Jamie Belle, walks her beloved, food loving pointer dog, Skootch E. Hurry, in San Francisco's Fort Funston only to find Roger Chen's dead, headless body on a park bench. San Francisco's police are brought into this murder and Nola meets Detective Bob Harrison who tells her that Chen's lifestyle is a criminal one, even though he's from a wealthy old Chinese family. Harrison also warns Nola to stop her detective work, but will she listen? No she won't and Nola proceeds to investigate Screen Leaf where Roger Chen worked after she fired him. Behind Screen Leaf is the Ancient Turtle Company, but what are these two businesses really doing?

"A Pointed Death" is a great beginning to what will hopefully be a new and successful mystery series featuring Nola Billingsley, a unique and endearing heroine with considerable brain power and willfulness. This series first is well-written and well-edited with humor interspersed with the crime solving plot(read about the sea lion who refuses to leave the yacht where Nola and Bob are romancing).Characters are believable throughout the story and the ending where Chen's killer is revealed brings a sad but satisfying conclusion to "A Pointed Death". This is a book that should be on the top of all mystery lovers planned reading!