In Feliz’s (Dead Storage, 2017, etc.) murder mystery, amateur sleuth and professional organizer Maggie McDonald comes to the aid of her best friend, whom the cops suspect of murder.
Maggie’s skills as an organizer include prepping for emergencies—for example, the spreading wildfire in the vicinity of Silicon Valley, where her family’s home is located. But it turns out that her friend, real estate agent Tess Olmos, needs her even more. Tess’ husband, Patrick, initially appears to have died from an accidental fall. However, a bullet wound in his shoulder, among other signs, points to a violent assault. When police later find a gun on a workbench in the Olmoses’ garage, Tess becomes a person of interest. Maggie, however, is suspicious, as no one recalls seeing the gun there before. She’s been involved in murder investigations in the past (in previous installments of this series), and she embarks on a mission to clear her friend’s name, starting by questioning other suspects, including Tess’ assistant and Patrick’s running partner. Maggie has plenty of help, particularly from her cop pal, Jason Mueller, who’s not officially working on Patrick’s homicide case. But other troubles soon arise involving local drug cartels, and, later, Maggie’s two sons disappear—along with Tess’ son. Feliz’s mystery features myriad appealing characters, most of them returning from previous books in the series; Jason is an always-reliable ally, as is his war-veteran husband, Stephen. Even Maggie’s pets have distinct personalities—golden retriever Belle, for instance, repeatedly nudges people with her nose for comfort or attention. The mystery plot is lightweight, and Maggie’s suspicions of others seem based more on her own impressions than any real evidence. But the whip-smart amateur detective does show considerable skill, particularly when it comes to organizing; at one point, she wisely anticipates and prepares for neighbors arriving at the Olmoses’ home to support newly widowed Tess. And Maggie’s charm knows no bounds, even when she’s interviewing an especially loathsome man: “I squelched my desire to kick him in the shins, or worse.”
An enticing fourth series installment thanks to an engaging cast.