In DeFarr’s debut murder mystery, a PI’s potential client is shot and killed, and a secret, affluent organization may be responsible.
By the time private eye Hera Hunter leaves her office to meet Ida Bunce, the mayor’s secretary, about a possible case, she’s already been killed. Hera decides to investigate the murder on her own and finds out that the mayor also has a connection to the recent murder of a journalist. A mysterious group called Bond Street Alliance crops up everywhere Hera looks, although people continually deny any knowledge of its existence. Although Hera, a delightfully perplexing and curiously flawed character, is devoted to halting the Alliance’s illegal activities, she unapologetically surrounds herself with criminals, including her co-worker, Toby, a computer hacker; her friend, Gwen, a burglar; and her foster father, a thief. She also isn’t afraid to use violence—in fact, she’s a former Marine Corps sniper, and in the novel’s opening, she guns down a wife-killer who skirted the justice system. Nevertheless, Hera is also sympathetic, as demonstrated by her relationship with a scene-stealing dog named Lucky. The dog is with her wherever she goes, and his unfailing companionship becomes such a staple that his perpetual response to Hera, “Yip,” genuinely sounds like agreement. Hera’s disturbing past, which includes abusive foster homes, is, despite the title, given little coverage; instead, the story concentrates on the main mystery and other myriad subplots, including her romance with the handsome PI MacDuff; an assignment she receives from an insurance company to recover a valuable painting Gwen stole; and her relationships with her foster sister, Billy, who runs a brothel, and her wealthy maternal uncle, whom she’s never met in person. DeFarr relies too much on convenient plot twists—a bracelet at a crime scene comes complete with initials—and leaves a couple of questions unanswered by the end. However, the novel is so dense with plotlines and characters that most readers may not notice.
A fine mystery with a protagonist who can easily carry a series—particularly if she has Lucky tucked under her arm.