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The Big Fix
by Linda Grimes
Tor, $26.99, 318pp
Published: May 2015

Ciel Halligan is an aura adapter, which is not quite the same thing as a shape-shifter, but it’s pretty close. She, and others like her, can take on the physical appearance and attributes – but not the mindset or memories – of a person they have touched. There aren’t many aura adaptors; there are the Halligan and the Doyle families, and not many others. The ability is genetically inherited and kicks in sometime around adolescence – fortunately no sooner – but not all family members have it.

Ciel’s brother Thomas and his best friend Mark have put their skills in the service of their country, working deep cover assignments for the CIA. Ciel uses her transformative powers to be a sort of Quantum Leap agent for hire: if you seriously need a double and are willing to sign her non-disclosure contract, she’ll walk that mile in your shoes.

Ciel grew up crushing on Mark, but Mark was always the distant, married-to-his-work kind of guy, and eventually Ciel realized that a relationship with a sexy guy who helps you with your professional career and makes you laugh is about as good as it gets, and that’s the relationship she now has with Billy Doyle. In fact, Billy lined up her present job: taking the place of studly actor Jack Gunn who has a phobia, and has hired Ciel to stand in for him for the filming of a crucial scene that features snakes, lots and lots of snakes. Not bad work for the pay, even if the movie script makes her gag. Best of all, Ciel thinks, being in Hollywood keeps her out of the clutches of her mother and aunt, who are planning a wedding. Yeah, like that’s going to work.

Roped in, Ciel must endure the horrors of being fitted for a yellow Maid of Honor’s dress and other indignities. But the worst part is that Mark is the Best Man, and he seems to be taking an interest in her. Ciel begins questioning the rightness of her relationship with Billy.

Ciel’s life takes a dangerous turn when Jack Gunn’s wife is found murdered, killed at the very time she was acting as Jack. In other words, she’s just provided an iron-clad alibi for a man who may be a killer. Ciel and Billy set out to solve the mystery and make sure the real culprit answers for the crime, not the fall guy.

Fast-paced, romantically satisfying, and funny, The Big Fix is a sequel to In a Fix and Quick Fix, but it is its own self-contained story. You will certainly enjoy it more if you have read the others first and know the characters’ back stories, but you can also pick this one up and dive right in.  – Chris R. Paige

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