Crime-solving attorney Alice MacDonald Greer returns to help an aspiring singer/songwriter whom cops suspect of murder in Foster’s (Ghost Cave, 2014) thriller.
Tessa McElroy, a guest at Alice’s Texas ranch, is excited to be recording her debut album at Ray and Toni Gimble’s resort-esque Twin Springs Studio. But when country legend Annie Temple turns up dead floating in a pool right before she and Tessa sing a duet, police think Tessa’s a murderer. After all, Annie had just recorded a song for a commercial—to the tune of Tessa’s standout ditty, “Hills.” The Gimbles claim Tessa signed away her publishing rights, but Tessa recalls only a one-page letter of intent. Ray, meanwhile, may be up to no good elsewhere; after Beer Barn owner Bill Birnbach rejected Ray’s offers to buy his roadhouse, someone’s been intermittently vandalizing the business. Alice may find her answers to all the recent events when she looks into the disappearance of notorious singer Blanton Geddes. The author’s brisk novel boasts a provisional detective with the skills of a professional. Alice wisely calls her criminal defense attorney pal Tyler Junkin, who actually handles the lawyering for Tessa. This allows Alice to focus on the overall picture: Blanton’s vanishing; someone cutting the power at the Beer Barn’s walk-in cooler; and even a dog hanging around Twin Springs and, rather strangely, making Ray visibly anxious. The resourceful protagonist gets helping hands from music producer Erik Workman and bookstore owner Ben Kinsear, the latter of whom doubles as Alice’s love interest. Foster ensures suspense with an ominous threat: Tessa may be the target of a crazed, die-hard Annie Temple fan or possibly Annie’s killer, who could be the one that fires a shot or two at Tessa. Alice, a refreshingly humble character, acknowledges that she fares better with neat and tidy documents rather than the “disorderly mess” of her amateur investigation. Foster’s descriptive prose is often relayed through characters’ dialogue—fitting because Alice pays scrupulous attention to the details. Not surprisingly, the best scene involves Alice as attorney: when singer Grady tries to back out of his show at the Beer Barn, Alice’s telephonic legal tirade is something to be admired.
A lively and laudable
protagonist will have readers hoping that she’ll soon stumble upon another