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Retro Reading: The Missing Ink by Karen E. Olson

Updated on May 13, 2022
Meet Brett. She's the owner of The Painted Lady and sleuth
Meet Brett. She's the owner of The Painted Lady and sleuth

In the first of a brand new mystery series, author Karen E. Olson takes us to the darker side of Las Vegas.

Throughout this journey into a little known area, we meet Brett Kavavaugh, a six foot tall red head who owns The Painted Lady, an upscale tattoo parlor located in the shops at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Brett's journey into missing people and bodies begins when she receives a visit from bride-to-be Elise Lyon two days prior to her wedding.

When questioned by the police she tells them that the police the girl who came into the shop claimed to be Kelly Masters and the name on the tattoo she wanted was Matthew. But, Elise is engaged to Chip Manning and his driver's name is also Matthew (as is Kelly Masters' brother).

Things get complicated as the police discover the body of the real Kelly Masters was once married to rival tattoo artist Jeff Coleman. Jeff calls Brett and asks if she could do a client for him at one of the new resorts, Versailles, which is owned by Chip's father, Bruce.

She accepts and when she gets there discovers something isn't right after meeting suave Englishman Simon Chase. Smitten by him she doesn't know if he's one of the good or bad guys. It seems Mr. Chase is connected to both of the women.

In conjunction with her brother Tim, a detective, Brett tries to get information from him and tries to keep what she knows a secret.

Add the characters who work at The Painted Lady and you have the making of a mystery series. An entire television season devoted to this (and future Tattoo Shop Mysteries) set against the glitz and tackiness of Las Vegas.

What I liked about this book is Olson didn't drag out the character's past lives like so many authors tend to do at the beginning of a novel. She paces it when need be and with having two characters named Matthew it can get confusing.

Overall the book is your typical crime novel but I think there should be one devoted to The Painted Lady's receptionist Bitsy Hendricks. She's the one who really steals the book with her antics.

Come on, dating an Elvis impersonator and hanging out at an all Elvis karaoke bar for fun makes Bitsy for one character in crime novel history. And who can forget about her stool?


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