A whirlwind of a Boston-based detective with a fluid sense of ethics finds answers for a grieving mother.
When a home invasion leaves Liz Barone in a coma, her mother, Bobbi, hires Josefina Ludlow to find out why anyone would hurt her daughter—a hard worker, a loyal wife, and a dedicated mother. Fina suspects it’s related to the lawsuit Liz was bringing against her employer and alma mater, New England University, for the long-term effects of head trauma she suffered as a soccer-playing student. And Fina wants to know why, in spite of the lawsuit, Liz had still been getting fundraising letters from Pamela Fordyce, an NEU development officer, and why Pamela is so uncomfortable in an interview. Fina also catches Liz’s former coach, Kevin Lafferty, who’s a volunteer booster-club president for NEU, in a couple of lies. Fina’s not above telling whoppers herself, even though she rationalizes she’s fibbing for a good cause, especially after Liz dies and the case turns from assault to murder. Fina’s under orders to steer the NEU lawsuit into the Ludlow family shop, one of the leading personal-injury law firms in the country, but she hopes it will bring relief to Liz’s survivors. Although she’s a law school dropout herself, Fina uses her energy and determination to follow every lead (including some that lead to a couple of unrelated cases), with numerous pit stops for fast food and an occasional tumble with her guy pals. She soon has all too many clues, and the definite idea—thanks to a threatening note and a bomb that sets her borrowed car on fire—that someone wants her to back off. But whoever hopes to discourage her doesn’t know how relentless Fina can be and how hard she’ll work to find the killer.
Fina’s third adventure follows the pattern of the first two: fashion, fat, and sugar. But Thoft (Identity, 2014, etc.) is an entertaining storyteller, and her quirky protagonist’s the equal of any male gumshoe.