An unexpected romance blossoms during a murder investigation in Geiger’s debut mystery.
When anchorwoman Michelle Osher is found nearly decapitated in her expensive apartment, suspicion focuses immediately on her husband, Paul. Police uncover a pattern of calls linking Paul to Sheyla Samonte, an entertainer at a nightclub called Pearls of Asia that features transgendered entertainers. Samonte quickly joins the suspect list when it is discovered that she enjoyed a lavish lifestyle on Paul’s dime, leaving police to wonder whether she wanted a promotion from mistress to wife. When Samonte refuses to cooperate unless Homicide Inspector Mac Fleet takes her to brunch, Fleet knows he needs to regain control of the investigation. That’s easier said than done, as he grows increasingly infatuated with Samonte. Convinced of her innocence, Fleet devotes himself to finding the real killer. The ensuing investigation uncovers infidelities, betrayals and a host of people who might want Michelle Osher dead. Geiger centers much of the action on the Pearls of Asia entertainers, whom he generally portrays with emotional depth and complexity. Occasionally, though, Geiger gives in to the temptation of cheap titillation and offers readers one-dimensional, hypersexual caricatures of the transgendered women. His writing style is similarly uneven. The book begins with snappy lines—"the gourmet kitchen was bigger than his first apartment, and it looked as though it made more reservations than recipes" and “jalapeno and garlic was the best California combination since Beach and Boy”—but later in the story, the witticisms focus primarily on crude sexual innuendos (“does that mean I get to go down on your periscope?” or “[she] called me right as my Latin boyfriend was rolling over to give me ‘room service’”). However, these small missteps do little to detract from the overall appeal of this fast-paced romp that has plenty of plot twists. Geiger deftly balances the murder investigation with the developing relationship between Fleet and Samonte until the book’s end, which rushes to a barely credible and somewhat unsatisfying resolution.
An enjoyable, intelligent read that triumphs over its minor shortcomings.