In the first Munch Mancini novel, NO HUMAN INVOLVED, author Barbara Seranella's hero was an ex-Bad Girl on the wean from drugs and sexual promiscuity while holding down a job as an auto mechanic. Of course, she was also a murder suspect, but everybody has a bad day now and then. Now, almost eight years later, Munch is the Repairs Manager in the auto shop, has her own off-hours limousine service, is devoted to her 7-year old adopted daughter, Asia, and has a serious crush on the homicide detective, Mace St. John, who was on her case years before. Besides being a best friend to Munch, Mace is comfortably married. Oh, well, even a turned-around life has its bummers.
Lest one conclude that Munch has had her ticket punched on the Metrolink train to the suburb named Middle-Class Boredom, UNFINISHED BUSINESS has her being stalked by a vicious rapist who's MO is to torture and kill using electricity. Even more exciting, she's helping secret heartthrob St. John solve the case! It doesn't get better than this.
In a wider sense, the best part of any Munch thriller is observing Mancini evolve. The "mystery" angle of each book is fairly standard stuff though, admittedly, that in UNFINISHED BUSINESS has a nice twist and a half at the end. But what will make me continue to read more of Seranella's offerings is to see down what path the author takes our hero. Munch is a very sympathetic and likable protagonist. Will she ultimately take Mrs. St. John's place in Mace's bed in his converted railroad car? Will she eventually start-up her own Beamer dealership on the Westside? What will be Mom's reaction when Asia becomes old enough to ask questions about drugs, boys, carburetors, or aromatherapy? And what sort of sickos will ooze from underneath those L.A. freeway underpasses to add zest to their lives?
Munch, you go, girl!