A middle-aged private investigator looks for romance—and a murderer—among the moneyed in this mystery novel.
In Danforth’s (Delilah, 2016, etc.) new series installment about detective Ronnie Lake, the born-to-money but down-to-earth protagonist attends Win and Marilyn Watson’s elegant party. Imported cars fill the driveway, attendees are draped in cashmere—and then a thief falls from a second-story after being shot. Ronnie immediately stops looking for a “devastatingly handsome” party guest, wealthy widower Jamie Gordon, and turns her attention to the crumpled cat burglar, who gasps the phrase, “The book,” before dying with Marilyn’s diamond choker in his pocket. But was the necklace really what he was after? After hearing a dog barking in the nearby woods, Ronnie investigates and finds a Jack Russell tied to a branch. The newly professional PI traces the canine to one Casey Whitmore, the deceased burglar, who worked at Alessandro Rare Books. That shop’s owner, stunning Katya Alessandro, threw a drink in Win’s face and left the Watsons’ party shortly before Whitmore’s body came crashing down. Alessandro’s other employee, young Sally Richards, also seems suspicious, particularly in her behavior concerning a rare copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. And where was Jamie, anyway, just prior to Whitmore’s fall? In addition to plenty of intrigue and a whiff of scandal, Danforth offers readers lots of engaging information on collectors’ books, rare coins, and Birkin bags. Readers of a certain generation may also feel nostalgic as songs by such artists as the Beach Boys and Sade serve as the soundtrack while Ronnie traipses from parties to polo matches in her red Mustang ragtop. Overall, the mystery isn’t too difficult to figure out, but the writing is breezy in tone and characters are unconventional—particularly Ronnie, who has a black belt in aikido, looks great in a sleeveless dress, and hasn’t succumbed to many challenges in her life, including a divorce and a son’s recent death in Afghanistan.
Readers may guess the killer before the big reveal, but they’ll also find that the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination.