"LIE OR DIE: A Shelby Nichols Adventure," by Colleen Helme, Mundania Press, $10.95, 181 pages (f)

Just because she can read minds doesn't mean the adventurous sleuth Shelby Nichols can always see the trouble headed her way.

She can help out mobster Joey "The Knife" Manetto by telling him what the crooks around him are thinking, but she can't predict the lengths they'll go to when they want something or someone (even when it's her), in Colleen Helme's recent novel "Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure."

She can tell when someone she's interviewing is lying, but she can't always tell where they've hidden the money they've taken.

But she's willing to try, mostly because since she discovered her hidden talents she's had very little choice.

Manetto wants the advantage Shelby can give him when he's negotiating for turf.

The police want her to help them catch thieves and the bank manager wants the stolen loot back.

The only one who really doesn't want her to read minds seems to be her husband, Chris. He finds it disconcerting to always have to protect his innermost thoughts.

Shelby is just trying to survive and keep her home life intact.

She's a rare detective, self-confident in her ability to look good and speak up for herself but way out of her depth when it comes to bad guys. She's opening up her own consulting agency but still reluctantly depends on and works for Manetto.

As a consequence, she is routinely in situations that test her wits and her little stun flashlight.

The Shelby Nichols novels are pleasant reads despite the tie-in with the Mafia. The author does a good job of creating family-friendly fiction while still telling an interesting story.

They're kept light, clean and friendly despite some of the life-and-death drama.

They're also short and printed in paperback so they're good to slip into the purse on the way to an appointment.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com