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Intellectual property attorneys, romance publishers, and librarians—the very last people you’d expect to be mixed up in murder! Add a pinch of authentic Civil War re-enactors and a sparkling tour of Kansas City, and voilà, a classic yet up-to-the-minute crime. Rep and Melissa Pennyworth head west from Indiana to a re-enactment of a Civil War battle in Kansas City, Missouri. Rep is really in quest of a cutting-edge copyright case connected with romance publishing house Jackrabbit Press. He finds a corpse instead. Linda Damon, Melissa’s best girlhood friend, worked for the victim, an editor (and womanizer) before his death. Linda’s husband, librarian Peter, an enthusiastic Civil War hobbyist, had motive (it must be said that on one recent occasion Linda became a bit too involved in her job), means (a Civil War saber that upon examination proves to be drenched in the victim’s blood), and opportunity (a publishing party). Logically, Rep’s knowledge of trademark and copyright law, Melissa’s Ph.D. in Literature, and the passionate enthusiasm for all things English embraced by Peter’s boss at the KC library, Diane Klimchock, should be no help in what is clearly a case for the police. However, when Rep and Melissa are involved in crime, logic is seldom a reliable guide, as we saw in their earlier investigation, Screenscam. While Unforced Error is great good fun as a mystery, as forecast in its witty (and startling) opening scene, it reminds us about the relevance of language, of words, to everything we do.

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