Clever Charlie Greene (Nobody Dies in a Casino, 1999, etc.) has come a long way. Pregnant at 16, she finished her education and, daughter Libby in tow, went out to the West Coast to become a top talent agent. Still on the sunny side of 40, she manages a stable of successful screenwriters, enduring a nearly two-hour daily commute to the offices of Congdon & Morse from her condo in a gated community in Long Beach. She enjoys her neighbors—power attorney Maggie Stutzman, dotty old Betty Beesom, and even Jeremy Fiedler, a middle-aged lech with mood swings. She also maintains cordial relations with willful, beautiful Libby. But her safe, sane world falls apart when she discovers Jeremy dead inside his Trailblazer. The police invade her home. Someone plants a bomb outside the complex. Charlie loses her hearing. A woman in a long coat flees Jeremy’s apartment at midnight. The police arrest Charlie, then release her. She regains her hearing. She has lunch with an old friend, federal agent David Dalrymple, who subsequently drops out of sight, only to return at a critical moment. Maggie has a heart attack. Betty Beesom admits that she knows something, but Charlie never finds out what it is. Instead, Libby’s cat begins bringing home chewed-up $100 bills. Finally, the party responsible for Jeremy’s death is revealed by actions that threaten the very core of Charlie’s existence.
Like Charlie, Millhiser’s latest tale of bitchy female triumphant spends hours on the road without covering any new ground.