Robin Light, unlicensed p.i., has arrived. Leaving the lizards at Noah’s Ark, her exotic-pet store, in the capable hands of her clerk Tim, as well as the slightly grubby hands of Manuel, the street kid who finds his way to her doorstep whenever he gets sick of his father’s beatings, Robin (Vanishing Act, 1998, etc.) devotes nearly all her time to solving cases for not one but two paying clients. The first should be a no-brainer: find a rebellious teenager who’s AWOL from her digs in the upscale Syracuse suburb of Cazenovia. Except that Bethany Peterson is more slippery than Robin’s fanciest pythons; whenever Robin draws a bead on her, she bolts. The second case is even tougher: would-be singer Hillary Cisco (with the grudging consent of her siblings, Louis and Amy) hires her to expose “pet psychic” Pat Humphrey, who’s cozied up to their wealthy mom, Rose Taylor by finding her lost cat Sheba. Plus, Robin’s got a little pro bono work going on the side, as she searches for a mysterious woman in a photo pressed on her by a nameless migrant worker just before he dies of tuberculosis. The deeper she probes, the faster the corpses pile up, with the escalating violence driving a wedge between Robin and her longtime lover, ex-cop George Samson.
Interlocking mysteries and layered family secrets nudge Block’s sixth toward Ross Macdonald territory, but without Macdonald’s edge.