A matchmaker investigates a murder involving one of her clients in Mathews’ debut crime novel.
Chloe, a former probation officer, has just found out that her cousin Marvin, an inept lawyer, has mismanaged the distribution of her mother’s estate. She now needs to use her $35,000 inheritance to pay her mother’s back taxes. The problem is that Chloe’s already spent the money to start an exclusive matchmaking service. The only solution is to take on Marvin’s wealthy friend as a client, but the blonde, leggy Alexis has an unusual back story: she used to be a man named Alex. Chloe has never matched a transgendered person before and is unsure what rules of propriety apply. Then again, she needs the money, and how troublesome can this client be? It turns out the answer is very: Chloe sets her up with a man who ends up murdered in Alexis’ bed. Alexis is the obvious suspect, but Chloe doesn’t believe she did it. The matchmaker must put on another new hat—that of a detective—to solve the outlandish crime and clear Alexis’ name and to keep the IRS from putting a lien on her own house. Mathews tells the story at a mile-a-minute pace, peppering her prose with precise descriptions and sharp, snarky dialogue: “ ‘Are you still raising goldies?’ Alexis asked. ‘I’ve switched to cockapoos.’ ‘I’ve switched a few things of my own.’ ” Chloe is a wonderfully original protagonist who’s middle-aged, sarcastic, and impatient. The supporting cast manages to avoid genre clichés, and if they’re archetypical, they’re at least intriguing variations of their archetypes. A quote from the fictitious Matchmaker’s Bible (such as “BE CAREFUL OF FELONS FOR CLIENTS”) heads each chapter, which lends a level of humorous credibility to the fictional world. The novel takes some fantastic licenses; a subplot involving terrorism, for example, gets a little silly. For the most part, however, it’s thrilling, escapist fiction that will keep readers turning pages.
An entertaining, fast-paced mystery.