A Phoenix PI and the teenage daughter he just learned he had find themselves embroiled in deception, murder, and human trafficking in Lewis’ debut thriller.
The latest drunken rant from Enid Iglowski’s mom comes with a shock: Enid’s father isn’t really her father. Enid tracks down her biological dad, Jack Fox, a private eye working in Arizona. Jack had no idea Enid existed, and he doesn’t know what to do with her. Plus, he’s already got enough on his plate: Jeni Hargrove hires him to find her real mother, while her wealthy sister Eve pays Jack to drop Jeni’s case. Detective Bud Orlean, meanwhile, may have a break in Daniel Hargrove’s presumed murder. Daniel, the sisters’ stepfather, has been missing for over three years; someone mailed a few body parts, including a heart, to the cops, but police have found what could be the rest of him. As Jack starts a dangerous relationship with Eve, he wonders why another private eye is following him—and who’s behind another, more recent murder. Despite Jack’s job, the murder investigation takes a back seat to an elaborate, albeit continually fascinating, soap opera. There are shades of a detective story: dark family secrets, more than one femme fatale, and Enid’s going undercover at a home for wayward girls to get some dirt on the Hargroves. But drama abounds, overwhelmingly so: Bud’s wife, Bunnie, threatens to divorce him if he won’t retire, and son Chip drops out of med school to become a writer; Petunia, with whom Jack had an affair, doesn’t seem to want to leave him alone; and Enid is terrified that Jack will hate her, but the stubborn girl doesn’t make liking her very easy. Rather than identifying a killer(s), the story eventually becomes more about who’s having (or wants to have) sex with whom. Enid is initially exasperating—she’s not above tantrums or milking others for sympathy since she was the result of a one-night stand—but she’ll grow on readers. Meanwhile, the banter and heated arguments between Jack and Enid are typically funny, almost endearing. She clearly wants a father, and his care for her is unmistakable. Lewis also drops in a few surprising turns both for the murders and the intermingling soap-operatic stories.
Sufficient mystery nearly overshadowed by stellar character subplots and a sweet but realistic father-daughter reunion.