If youve never read Barbara Seranellas Munch Mancini series before, get ready to meet a unique and utterly engaging heroine! The petite Munch (short for Munchkin), an ace auto mechanic working in the tony Beverly Hills area, is also a former biker chick and addict; now, clean and sober for seven years, shes a new mom to her adopted seven-year-old daughter, Asia. Between slumber parties and starting her own limosine service, shes pretty busy. But when she meets Robin, a terrified, homebound rape survivor, she finds time to help.

This rapist has an especially nasty M.O., stunning his victims with electric shocks. When socialite Diane Bergman, Munchs client and friend, is found dead by electrocution, it seems the Brentwood rapist has moved on to murderand it turns out that several of his victims took their cars to Munchs garage.

As she tries to put the pieces together, Munch starts remembering incidents in her past that shed blurred with drugs and alcohol, and must confront her own experience with sexual assault.

Seranella, a former auto mechanic who shares much of her heroines background, makes Munchs adventures entirely believable. She writes with a riveting combination of grittiness and warmth that will keep you glued to your seat until the heart-stopping and thoroughly satisfying conclusion. (May, 272 pp., $24.00)

Reviewed by: 
Laurie Davie