A free-wheeling Boston private eye learns the unintended consequences of charitable donations.
Fina Ludlow lives on diet soda and junk, wins no prizes for housekeeping, juggles two part-time lovers, has an iffy relationship with the truth and prefers the streets to the conference room of her family’s prestigious law firm. Her father doesn’t approve of her, but he does find her talents useful, especially when she does some sleuthing for a client who’s suing Heritage Cryobank to learn the identity of her daughter’s sperm donor. Fina spares no effort (not all of it strictly legal) to out the father, Hank Reardon, a high-tech billionaire with a son by his first marriage, a daughter by his second and the offspring of some impulsive contributions to Heritage shortly after his college graduation. Although he offers to do right by his recently discovered issue, someone’s unhappy enough to bludgeon him to death in the parking lot of his company. When Michael Reardon hires Fina to find out who killed his father, she has to determine why two of his cryokids have phony alibis, how angry Hank’s partner was about being left out of a lucrative waterfront deal, why Hank’s former wife and current wife have dueling charities in the Boston area, and why, just before his death, Hank made several phone calls to the director of Heritage. In spite of warnings that grow increasingly physical, Fina won’t give up in a whodunit that maddeningly builds up momentum and then jams on the brakes to describe the hair and eye color of even minor characters or Fina’s snack of choice.
Thoft (Loyalty, 2013) doesn’t hold back on her gutsy detective’s flaws or on irrelevant side trips. But Fina’s second outing is a mostly enjoyable roller-coaster tour of the rapidly changing world of assisted reproduction.