A fledgling California PI, more accustomed to finding runaways than murderers, attempts to upend a frame-up.
Jaymie Zarlin is an easy mark. When her former beau, Sheriff Deputy Mike Dawson, sends housecleaner Gabi Gutierrez to her, she agrees to look into the plight of Gabi’s nephew. Danny, mentally slow like Jaymie’s dead brother, has been found cradling the body of Lili Molina, the pretty young girl starring as Daphne in the Santa Barbara solstice pageant, and the cops figure he killed her. Jaymie finds many clues the SBPD overlooked and is soon sleeping with her pal, a high-powered nabob, for insights, ignoring the deputy’s pleas that she be careful, and stepping on the toes of the rich, the haughty and the secretive. Her dog is brutalized, but her office gets better organized as Gabi takes over as her assistant, bringing the files up-to-date, making decent coffee and offering chocolate-filled pastries every morning. Acting on Jaymie’s behalf, she also accepts a dognapping case Jaymie handles altogether more smoothly than Lili’s murder, which will implicate a bratty son, a rebellious daughter, a closeted dad, a mother in denial, a wealthy aunt and her gun-toting assistants, and various men whose families have been privy to arcane, felonious solstice rites for generations. Danny will die, Jaymie will require rescue, and the Santa Barbara Fire Department will have to deal with a major alarm. But not to worry: Jaymie will figure out whodunit. More importantly, those chocolate-filled pastries will keep right on coming.
Mark first-timer Jaymie as one more private eye California could do very nicely without.