Miranda "Munch" Mancini lived a hard life of drugs, sex and crime before she hit rock bottom. Eight years ago, she cleaned up and started a new life—or at least she tried to. She has a stable job, a house and an adopted daughter who means the world to her, but her past comes calling when one of her former drug buddies is found brutally murdered.

Homicide detective Mace St. John—also one of Munch's close friends—links Munch to the dead girl and goes to her with questions. Realizing that the answers could ruin everything she's worked so hard for, Munch tries to find the person she believes had something to do with the murder. But in her quest for the culprit, she encounters trouble and salvation and must choose to stay on the right path.

UNPAID DUES is a gritty, realistic portrait of the life—and the haunting past—of an ex-addict. Seranella adds to that a tight, unpredictable story with compelling and sometimes tragic characters. That includes Munch, who she presents in a nonjudgmental way—and readers will be rooting for her to not fall back on old habits. This book is sure to be on many people's list for one of the top books of 2003. (May, 304 pp., $25.00)

Reviewed by: 
Robyn Glazer