Thoft’s debut novel introduces a new female private investigator operating out of Boston who often rebels against her wealthy, overbearing and successful family.
Josefina “Fina” Ludlow works as a PI for the family law firm, which specializes in medical malpractice. Her father, Carl, the firm’s top lawyer and family patriarch, is both self-consciously stylish and disapproving of his only daughter, especially since Fina flunked out of law school. Her three brother—Rand, Scott and Matthew—are all lawyers who work alongside their dad in the family firm. When Rand’s wife, Melanie, doesn’t return home one day, Fina and her family are plunged into an investigation and public relations nightmare that ends up involving a normally discreet call-girl service, a gaudy and overbearing female investigator with the Boston police, and Fina’s niece, Melanie’s and Rand’s daughter, Haley, a beautiful but troubled kid whose parents have been too busy fighting with one another to pay attention to her needs. In Fina, Thoft crafts a not particularly original female investigator: She’s beautiful, she can fight, she has sex with lots of good-looking men, she wolfs down junk food, often employs poor judgment and bucks the establishment. Although Fina has the occasional astute turn of phrase, many of her techniques read like they are straight out of a private investigator’s manual, and most of the action fails to ring true. Thoft’s writing is clean and crisp, though, and she weaves the story together without too many stutters, although few readers will fail to figure out key plot twists fairly early in the action. She also commits the mistake of incorporating relentless descriptions of both the clothing and hairstyles of the various characters. As for Fina, while Thoft works hard to make her flawed and interesting, mostly she comes across as rash, sloppy and neither moral nor particularly good at what she does.
Thoft’s first effort provides a competent storyline that, while it fails to break new ground, promises to improve over time.