“A Softness in the Eyes” – by Harry Posner

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As I hobbled over to Board Two, Nora looked up at me and smiled warmly. It was a smile I knew well, with more than a hint of primal heat. She was at ease, in her element, with her full-breasted, ample-thighed body; enjoyed turning heads with provocative clothes and racy comments, crossing and uncrossing her lithe legs as she pondered the board.

When I first read this I thought: You had me at “ample-thighed.” It’s a quote from “A Softness in the Eyes,” which arrived by mail a few weeks ago together with a note from the author asking for a review, though it wasn’t until returning from Maine that it made it to the top of my reading list.

I have to admit, the author covers a lot of ground in the 174 page murder mystery that is book-ended by a letter from prison, managing to tie in Egyptian mythology with a crime novel set to the backdrop of a chess tournament. The locus in quo for our murder mystery is a distant island near Sumatra, where a wealthy patron has assembled the best and the brightest chess players in the world in order to settle a decades old score of her own. The majority of the novel takes place during this tournament.

Between the title page and the acknowledgments, you will encounter references to many historical and fictional chess players alike. Perhaps even the setting itself is a tip of the hat to the Piatigorsky Cup?

Naturally, such a plot would be incomplete without a femme fatale character, who is realized in the irressisstable “Nora Kardashian.” If the last name didn’t give it away, she is the ample-thighed character described above.

Naturally, I’m giving it an enthusiastic thumbs up and you can buy it here.