A mismatched trio stumble through the fallout of white-collar fraud in this madcap take on contemporary mysteries.
Pat Foy was only a teenager when she took up with hard-drinking, hard-boiled mystery novelist Lemuel Samuel. But while she might have been the writer’s muse, it was her more grounded buddy Ginny Howley who actually read Samuel’s books. Flip ahead a few decades and the three are in separate worlds. Foy is stranded in a trophy house, alone with only her rebellious teen daughter Ruby, after her husband goes to prison for his part in a huge telecom fraud. Howley has become a writer, but is barely making it in Maine, thanks in part to Pat’s husband’s fraud. And Samuel is paying the price of years of hard living, but he has produced a son, Will, who serves as a fine foil and companion to Ruby, and his pointed criticisms also finally open Foy’s eyes up to the enormity of her husband’s misdeeds. A chance comment and the sleepless nights of growing awareness put Foy on the road, and soon the old friends are working together, ostensibly to right some wrongs. Carey has a great ear, and Foy and depressive Howley make for one of the great odd couples in crime fiction. Samuel is less fully realized than the two childhood friends. A former mystery columnist for Salon.com, Carey (The Crossley Baby, 2003, etc.) offers a few too many inside jokes about the crime-fiction community. The shifting viewpoints are also a bit much, drawing attention to the writing as much as the characters. But when this off-kilter story works, it’s quite a ride.
Offbeat humor propels an unusual take on the modern mystery.