From veteran Vida (Between Sisters, 1996, etc.), a tale with more twists and turns than Pacific Route One: a scarred man and a woman are brought together by a suicide that looks suspiciously like murder.
When older sister Alice Miller calls Ellie Holmgren, a divorced accountant still mourning the sudden death of her young son, Jamie, and tells Ellie that she’s just killed her husband Morty, Ellie rushes over to help. Alice seems distraught and vague about what happened, but when Ellie sees the gun in Morty’s hand, and Alice confesses that Morty has been physically abusive to her, Ellie decides to tell the police it was a suicide. The detective in charge believes her, but Teo Domingos, his assistant, doesn’t. A Vietman vet, Teo is still troubled by his war experiences, so when he presses for a full investigation of Morty’s death, it’s suggested he’s ill and should take a leave. He has other baggage—he’s still wounded by his divorce from former dancing girl and would-be star, Bonnie. When he begins his own investigation of Morty’s death, he meets up again with Ellie; the two are attracted and become lovers. But Teo is all but commandeered by his own dysfunctional family. A drug-addicted sister abandons her son, and Teo must take care of him; another sister leaves her husband and moves into Teo’s house; and ex-wife Bonnie attempts a comeback. While Teo sorts out his family trouble and his feelings for Ellie, she has to take care of Alice, now hospitalized for a heart condition. When Alice escapes from the hospital, she insists Ellie take her back to the old family farm north of Los Angeles. There, with Ellie’s help, she begins fixing the house and confesses long-hidden secrets. Teo will do more sleuthing and some housecleaning of his own before heading north.
Sympathetic characters vividly detailed, but trapped in action overload.