This debut novel, the first in the Angelina Bonaparte mystery series, follows the brassy 50-something PI as she attempts to clear her client’s husbandof a murder he didn’t commit.
When Angelina gets hired to snoop on Gracie Belloni’s cheating husband, Anthony, she thinks it’s going to be a straightforward adultery case. Then Anthony’s mistress, Elisa, turns up dead, and he’s the prime suspect. Gracie knows her husband would never commit murder, and it’s up to Angelina to clear his name. The more Angelina digs, the more she discovers just how many enemies Elisa had; she starts making a few of her own as well. Angelina enlists the assistance of Detective Ted Wukowski, who not only helps her crack the murder case but also helps her solve the mystery of her stagnant love life. Smart, sassy Angelina is, as she puts, “a fifty-something hottie: white hair gelled back, dramatic eye make-up, toned body encased in designer duds. Gravity has taken a small toll, but who notices in candlelight?” It’s easy to see how she gets even the most reluctant people to talk to her. The mystery is carefully plotted, and Rathbun introduces several characters with plausible motives for offing Elisa. Some of them are more engaging than others, however, and the story begins to get weighed down by Angelina’s many leads. There also aren’t quite enough plot twists, as the story unfolds logically and methodically. This demonstrates Angelina’s skills as an investigator, but it would have been fun to see a few more wrenches thrown into the works.
Would have benefited from a brisker pace and a few more surprises, but still an impressive debut and a promising start to a smart new mystery series.