In this debut thriller, a woman decides to look into the murders of fellow real estate brokers when it seems that someone’s setting her up as a patsy.
Dana Black is one of some 2,000 Realtors in Rock Canyon. It’s a profession that doesn’t get much respect from the townspeople, particularly considering an agent’s underhanded stunt to garner public sympathy and the unexplained disappearance of a “problem client.” So when a couple of agents turn up murdered, cops aren’t very interested. Dana, however, is worried about her lack of alibis. Suffering from intermittent blackouts, she can’t account for her whereabouts during the first murder. BDSM play partner, Dare, is her alibi for the second homicide, but he has reason to keep mum about their encounters. Dana finds an ally in private eye Aidan Cummings, who asks her to join him in questioning locals because they’ll likely be more responsive to a familiar face. It isn’t long before Cummings is more appealing than Dare, despite the detective’s conventional sex life making him boring vanilla. As the murderer continues targeting Realtors, it’s clear a frame-up is in the works (for example, a car that looks suspiciously like Dana’s). With a sordid past and her estrangement from hateful, sickly mom, Cassandra Beckett, and older, top-selling broker sister, Melanie, Dana has incentive to track down a killer. Though the murder mystery’s initially muted, focusing on Dana’s sexual escapades with Dare, Barr’s story gradually becomes a dense, twist-laden excursion. Dana’s history, for one, is rife with trauma—Dad died on her 6th birthday—and curious motives later come to light, including Cassandra wanting no association with her younger daughter. Dana’s not quite as kinky as she asserts, specifically indexing her various limits. Nevertheless, the woman torn between sexually enticing Dare and charming Cummings faces a dishy dilemma. And despite her worries, Dana’s nonexistent alibis aren’t much of an issue; she’s actively involved in the investigation, spearheaded by Cummings (per orders from the short-on-manpower captain), who believes in her innocence. But she’s unequivocally in danger by the end, and the spiraling final act, culminating with the killer’s staggering reveal, is an exhilarating ride.
A buoyant, commendable mystery that piles on red herrings with ferocity and glee.