Tue
Feb 21 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte by Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes and a Skinny, No-Whip Latte by Diane KellyThe IRS scares me. Even Al Capone, who eluded the ATF and the FBI, finally couldn’t escape the IRS. Though I file my taxes on time, and only take the necessary deductions that I can claim as a writer (is my Entertainment Weekly subscription a legitimate expense?),  I live in fear that one day I’m going to be audited and I won’t have the necessary receipts. After finishing the second book in Diane Kelly’s new series, Death, Taxes and a Skinny No-Whip Latte, I’m even more frightened. Who knew that some of them had a license to kill? Death, Taxes and a Skinny No-Whip Latte improves on the promise of the first book in the series, filled with vivid secondary characters, and a pulse-pounding plot.

You didn’t become a member of the Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations team without a stellar academic record, impressive career credentials, and a razor-sharp intellect, not to mention a quick hand on both a calculator and a gun. Not that I’m bragging. But it’s true.

Tara Holloway left a boring 9-5 job at a big accounting firm to work as an agent for the U.S. Treasury department’s Criminal Investigations Division. Instead of filing tax returns, she now spends her days going after the country’s biggest tax cheats. On the heels of planning a much needed break with Brett, her hottie landscape architect boyfriend, Tara and her partner Eddie have been assigned to get the goods on Marcos Mendoza, a local businessman. Mendoza has his fingers in a lot of pies, including being a suspected loan shark with connections across the Mexican border. He’s never been accused of any crimes, yet his business associates have a history of resurfacing in dumpsters all over Texas.

Forget the picture of IRS agents as dour trolls! Tara is not only funny but also a total bad ass. The Annie Oakley of the IRS, she is tough, quirky, with a love of the color red.  Heck she’s even got two cats named Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII.  She’s determined to get her man, even if it means hours spent stuck in a car on a stake-out with only the Angry Birds app on her phone for company.  And if she can’t get him the usual route, well she’s not afraid to think about taking an alternative route.

I was beginning to think that it might be easier to simply shoot Mendoza than to try to nail him for tax fraud.  Heck, with my keen eye and sharp finger, I could take out Mendoza out with a clean head shot from a hundred yards. Given the many loopholes in gun registration laws, my dad had a whole cabinet full of unregistered hunting rifles.  Nobody would ever know it was me.

See, a total bad ass! Along the way, she has to deal with a bout of head lice, lugging around an extra ten pounds, and planning a party for her boss Lu, not to mention a hunky Treasury agent on the lam who tests her commitment to monogamy.

The guy looked like Kurt Russell in his younger days, or Val Kilmer, who coincidentally, had encountered his own problems with the IRS and had had to put his ranch on the market to pay delinquent taxes. Lu had said Nick was a workhorse. But she hadn’t mentioned he was a stallion….His tiger-striped suit left nothing to a girl’s imagination. It looked like he’d packed an oversized potato in there. An extra-large, genuine grade-A russet that would win the blue ribbon, hands down, at the Idaho state fair.

While Tara may remind readers a bit of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, (they both have high-stress jobs, both love unhealthy food, and of course the ubiquitous two love interests) she’s actually not only good at her job but enjoys it.  Naturally, her parents and significant other worry about the threat of danger.

Of course I’d done my best to convince him that the attack was a fluke; that the vast majority of tax evaders surrendered peacefully, that most special agents went their entire careers without facing real danger. But I wasn’t most special agents. As Eddie’d once pointed out, something about me brought out the homicidal tendencies in people.

Excuse me while I double-check my tax return.


Elizabeth Kerri Mahon loves to write about Scandalous Women & the men that loved them. Her first book, Scandalous Women, was published by Perigee Books in March 2011. Visit her at scandalouswoman.blogspot.com.

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