Ex-cop Willa Pennington investigates the murder of a family friend’s granddaughter’s boyfriend in this debut novel.
Now that her parents are on a long-awaited, well-deserved vacation, Willa expects that riding herd on her computer-nerd brother, Ben, will be her toughest assignment in their absence. But when neighbors David and Susan Horowitz ask the budding private eye to help their granddaughter Violet move out of the house she shares with her abusive boyfriend, she can hardly say no. The Penningtons and the Horowitzes have been close friends for years, and Willa’s dad would have helped out in a shot. But Willa’s good deed turns sour when Violet’s violent beau turns up dead in the empty house. With Joe Reagan deceased and Violet in the wind, Willa feels she has to try to find his killer even though Virginia law specifically forbids PI’s from investigating murders—and she isn’t even a licensed PI. Her job is further complicated by the return of her childhood friend Seth Anderson, the brother of her best friend, Michael, who died in Iraq shortly before she and Seth shared a moment. Once Seth is back on the scene, Hix turns much of her energy to exploring his relationship with Willa, who rejects his attempts to shield her from harm because she’s determined to prove that she’s as capable as any guy. The result is a debut that saddles tough-girl noir with the heart of a cozy.
Hix's heroine is appealing enough to warrant a second chance if her author can concoct a better mix of detection and romance.