Florida private eye Helen Hawthorne (Final Sail, 2012, etc.) helps a small businessman fight city hall.
Everyone wants a piece of Sunny Jim Sundusky. Bill Bantry, owner of Bill’s Boards, wants his customers. Cyrus Reed Horton, owner of Cy’s on the Pier, wants the tiny piece of land on Riggs Beach where Sunny Jim rents out his standup paddleboards; at $10 an hour, Cy can make a pretty penny parking cars on that beachfront plot. Riggs Beach mayor Eustice Timmons, Commissioner Charlie Wyman and Commissioner Frank “the Fixer” Gordon all want Sunny Jim out of the way in order to strike a lucrative deal with either Bill or Cy. So Sundusky hires Helen and her husband, Phil Sagemont, to find out who’s been vandalizing his boards. The ante gets upped big time when novice Ceci Odell takes a board out against Jim’s advice at high tide and drowns. Before the city fathers can pull Jim’s ticket, the medical examiner notices that Ceci was stabbed. Suspicion naturally falls on Ceci’s husband, Daniel, who harassed his pudgy wife mercilessly. Then waitress Joan Right tells Helen about seeing a diver lurking under the pier about the time Ceci drowned. It’s a slender lead, but it just might be the break Coronado Investigations needs to keep Sunny Jim from being chased off Riggs Beach.
Viets’ 12th proves that moving Helen from dead-end jobs into full-time employment does nothing to stifle her quirky good humor.