Van Gieson's atmospheric series featuring lawyer Neil Hamel (Ditch Rider
, 1998, etc.) tempts readers to follow her to the vibrantly rendered Albuquerque area and take a lover so young he could be called the Kid. She has less success with her other series heroine, divorced research librarian Claire Reynier, whose main interests now are books and avoiding her supercilious boss. After a visit from Evelyn Martin, an old sorority sister, Claire finds her signed first edition of Herman Melville's The Confidence Man
missing, along with a batch of her credit cards. Three other sorority sisters also been bamboozled by Evelyn now loom large as suspects when her badly decomposing body turns up. Who killed her: Ginny, who drinks too much? Elizabeth, who never met a woman she didn't compete with, even her second husband's daughter? Lynn, who could be the poster child for tranquility? And what about Miranda, driven by her roommate Evelyn's shenanigans from college to television stardom and a husband who plays around? Trying to clear herself, Claire drives from Santa Fe to Cave Creek, Arizona to Albuquerque interviewing the sisters—except for Miranda, who's off in Mexico filming—or is she? The Melville pops up (or does it?), and with the help of a friendly bookseller and a tolerant cop, Claire sets up a sting that resolves a case of authorial misdirection.
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