Fresh Meat: Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria by Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria by Diane Kelly is the 4th book in the humorous mystery series featuring U.S. Treasury Department Special Agent Tara Holloway (available January 29, 2013).

“Men,” I said, shaking my head. “You can’t live with ’em, and you can’t shoot ’em.”

“You’ve shot men plenty of times,” Alicia said.

“I’ve shot at them many times,” I corrected, “but I only actually put bullets in three of them.” I took the left nut off the first and got the other two in the leg. But don’t worry. They totally deserved it.

Meet Tara Holloway: Annie Oakley of the IRS.

That’s right—I said IRS.

Now, I know what you’re thinking—I say “IRS employee” and you picture a pencil-pushing math nerd. Somebody who sits behind a desk all day poring over tax returns and trying to wring blood from a stone—the blood in this scenario being money, and the stone being you.

But you’ve got the wrong idea about Tara Holloway.

Tara, you see, is a badge-carrying, sharp-shooting Special Agent with the Criminal Investigations Division of the U.S. Treasury Department. She’s like Emma Peel without the rich industrialist father. (Also, without the part where she’s British. And probably without the part where she knows how to fence, too. BUT STILL.)

Sure, her love life is a thorny mess:

I grabbed his hand back and held it to my cheek this time. “Please don’t be mad. I’m crazy about you, Nick. You know that.”

He gave a grunt of displeasure, but when he eyed my face his frown melted. “I’ll never understand how you can be so tough at your job and such a chickenshit about your personal life.”

If he hadn’t nailed me so perfectly, I might’ve been angry again. “Guns are much easier to handle than men,” I said, shrugging. “They don’t go off unexpectedly, I can control them, and they’re easier to clean.”

She doesn’t often bite her tongue:

As I slid into the seat, Trish said, “No need, Tara. We’ve got what we need already. Besides,” she scrunched her nose as she eyed my suit again, “cheap fabrics don’t film well.”

I stood, doing my best to remain calm. “You’re right, Trish,” I said. “Cheap things look awful on camera.” I punctuated my words with a pointed look and a snide smile before raising my head high and walking out.

Her dirty laundry pile is the size of a small ski hill:

When I climbed out of bed, Christina shrieked. I turned to find her eyeing the gap where the back of my gown hung open. “You’ve been wearing those underwear for almost a week?”

I rolled my eyes. “No. I just put them on this morning.”

She gestured at my ass. “But they say Thursday.”

“Yeah, and my high-school yearbook says I plan to marry Keith Urban.” I rolled my eyes. “Don’t believe everything you read.”

And she consumes an alarming amount of fruity wine. But when the circumstances of Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria by Diane Kelly find Tara tasked with tracking down those responsible for helping terrorists send money overseas to fund bombings and other unspeakable acts of violence, you’d best believe she gets the job done. Because you see, Tara Holloway always gets her man—even if she’s occasionally forced to rely on somewhat unconventional methods in order to do so:

I gave him a big smile as I aimed my gun at him. “Howdy!” I hollered over the approaching siren.

He threw an ineffective swing at me with his right hand, managing only to get his body turned cockeyed in the seat.

“Sit still,” I ordered.

He didn’t obey. Instead, he righted himself and jerked his head around, desperately seeking his semiautomatic.

“If you reach for your gun,” I warned him, taking a step closer, “I’ll shoot you.”

He ignored me again, apparently spotting his gun and reaching down to the floorboard with his free hand.

At this point, I had a couple of options. One, I could do as promised and shoot the guy, fill out yet another firearm discharge report, and face yet another internal inquiry. Or two, I could figure out another way to keep the guy from reaching his gun.

I went for option two. I’m nothing if not resourceful.

With his left arm cuffed to the luggage rack, the man’s armpit was exposed. I reached out and tickled him. He shrieked, twisted in his seat, and slapped my fingers away. The instant he reached down for his weapon again, I tickled him a second time. He shrieked and slapped again. Say what you will about this rudimentary method, but tickle torture was an effective technique and far less controversial than waterboarding. Maybe they should add the tickle torture technique to the special agent manual.

And honestly, her unconventionality is a big part of what makes her such an endearing heroine. They broke the mold when they made Tara Holloway. She’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in an I’m-with-Stupid t-shirt—a bad-ass, gun-toting, name-taking IRS agent who never seems to lose her goofy sense of humor, and above all, never stops being a woman:

An hour later, I was sprawled out on my sofa, the man who had planned to end my life was on his way to jail, and the man who made my life worth living was on the phone, congratulating me on a job well done.

“You’re quite a woman, Tara Holloway,” Nick said. “Are you sure you don’t have a big pair of balls hidden somewhere?”

“Quite sure,” I replied. “Just a pair of steel-plated ovaries.”

For more information, or to buy a copy, visit:

Buy at Powell’s Buy at IndieBound! Buy at Amazon Buy at Books a Million Buy at Barnes and Noble Buy at iTunes


Read more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.


Katrina Niidas Holm loves mysteries. She lives in Maine with her husband, fabulously talented pulp writer Chris F. Holm, and a noisy, noisy cat. She writes reviews for The Season E-Zine and The Maine Suspect, and you can find her on Twitter.

Read all Katrina Niidas Holm’s posts for Criminal Element.


  1. Dorothy Hayes

    “Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria,” the title alone, promises fun and from your review, Diane Kelly delivers. Also, I’m a strong proponent of the tickle (mildy) torture treatment to replace water boarding for it is far less “controvercial,” as Kelly suggested. What a delightful book!

    Murder at the P&Z by Dorothy H. Hayes will be published in April.

  2. Katrina Niidas Holm

    Thanks, Dorothy! It’s a great series — one I highly recommend.

  3. Anne Joyce

    Bartender, make mine a Peach Sangria!

  4. Jena Briars

    (Saw this from over at Heroes & Heartbreakers.) Excellent review! I can’t wait for this one to come out… and yeah, I suddenly have a hankering for Peach Sangria too!

  5. Jeffrey Tretin

    Sounds great – a lot of fun. Thank you for the review.

  6. Anne Muller

    I’ve read the first 3 books in the series so far. Thumbs up!

  7. Ann Powers

    I never heard of the author before but I will be checking out her books. The excerpt from the book made my day. I laughed…a lot. Thanks for highlighting this book

  8. Johanna Bouchard

    Never heard of Diane Kelly, but it sounds like a great read! 🙂

  9. Tracy Skalisky

    Sounds interesting.

  10. Mike Rogers

    I like it!

  11. Sue Farrell

    As as accountant, I just love the light-hearted mystery of this series.

  12. Marie-Louise Molloy

    [b][color=rgb(64, 224, 208)]You had me at the title~would love to continue reading it!! [/color][/b]

  13. JustMee

    [b]I have the whole series on my Amazon wish list. [/b]
    [b]I thinks it’s about time I read more than the GREAT[/b]
    [b]discriptions! HaHa! [/b]

  14. Lori Myers

    I love this series! Once I start one I can’t put it down. I’m excited that I only have to wait until June for th next in the series, too.

  15. erin f

    sounds fun! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Robin Weatherington

    [b]Can’t wait to read it.[/b]

  17. lynette thompson

    Death taxes and peach-Sangria another great book. I would love to read this book too

  18. Nora-Adrienne Deret

    I love the title and the cover. I’ve seen a few reviews of the book and would love to actually win a copy . It would feel right at home in my 2000+ books home library.

  19. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book

  20. Allison Moyer

    Not much is scarier than the IRS.

  21. L L

    Sounds intriguing.

  22. jane

    sounds like fun to read

  23. Merle Carrus

    Sounds like fun…always fun to read a mystery about women and add in the IRS…it is better than filing tax forms! I will go back and start from the beginning.

  24. Doris C. Losey

    Enjoyed all the other titles in this series

  25. Darlene Slocum

    This sounds like a real fun read.

  26. Clydia DeFreese

    I haven’t heard of this author. I look forward to checking out her books. I enjoy humor with my mysteries.

  27. Karen Cherubino

    I’ve read Death, Taxes and Extra-Hold Hairspray and just loved it. Have the others in the series on my wish list and would love to read this one, too.

  28. Joanne Mielczarski

    I love mysteries, and a humorous one will be entertaining to read.

  29. Cindi

    I adore the title and the cover of this humorous suspense book…
    Many thanks, Cindi

  30. Sally G

    I really like the feel of this book, and the cover is fantastic. Love the peach pit skull.

  31. Bruce Hamilton

    Tara Holloway is such a great IRS agent she should be in movies.


  32. Cyn209

    ok, i so need to start this series!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

  33. Lisa Garrett

    I love humorous

  34. Pat Murphy

    Stumbled on her Death, Taxes and a Skinny no whip Latte this summer. Great read and this one sounds just as crazy and wild. Love the tickle part.

  35. Debbie Miller

    Would love a copy!

  36. MaryC

    Love the humor – great series!

  37. ravensfan

    Thanks for the chance to win this book!

  38. Cheryl English

    I just love the combination Title. Sounds like a great read.

  39. Taylor Duncan

    Would love to win! So excited!

  40. Taylor Duncan

    Would love to win! So excited!

  41. Ann Muth

    my kinda book

  42. Sandra Slack

    Sounds like a great read.

  43. Jackie Wisherd

    Would enjoy reading this book. Thanks for the info.

  44. Brenda Tucker

    A wonderful beginning for a humorous mystery – I love it.

  45. jason fiske

    Love to read this one with a Peach Sangria in my hands.

  46. Desmond Warzel


  47. vicki wurgler

    I like the idea of a humorous mystery-I did read the excerpt and it sounds like a great read

  48. Phoenix

    This series is new to me, but it looks like fun.

  49. fritter

    Great author and owned by a cat-can’t get ay better.

  50. Patricia

    Eager to begin reading a new series with this kind of humor.

  51. Laura McLendon

    I’m not familiar with this book series, that is till now. I have already added it to my reading list.

  52. Melissa Keith

    I am DYING to read this series. I just read about this book in Diane’s newsletter. I love how it starts. lol!
    [b]Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria [/b]sounds very entertaining and I’d love to win. Thanks!

  53. Suzanne Rorhus

    I’ve just read the first two in the series. I’m a fan!

  54. Amie Ward

    I love this series and having worked with several treasury agents don’t find the situations she gets into that far off the mark.
    However she certainly has a unique way of handling herself.
    I can’t wait to read this newest installment. It’s a great series. Refreshing, funny, and never, ever dull.
    Love the series and would love to win her newest book.

  55. Holly Rankin

    i wanna win! =]

  56. Beth Talmage

    I have discovered some great series from Criminal Element. I’m betting this is another one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *