In Riggs’ debut thriller, a New England–based private eye finds herself embroiled in a murder case when someone shoots her friend and employee.
Esteemed artist Barrington Bigelow hires private eye Rose Chandler to find Jessica Winters, a former lover who may have been pregnant with his child when she left him years ago. But when somebody kills Hal Cappodecci, a PI working for Rose, it shocks her small town of Haven, New Hampshire. Rose and her cop pal, Rocky, soon learn that the FBI is investigating stolen paintings and a mob boss named Sandy Beach. It turns out that a Haven local may be helping the gangster with his art thievery. Later, someone assaults Barrington and ransacks his cottage, and there’s a second murder, to boot. As Rose searches for the elusive Jessica, she realizes that all the recent events may be connected, and her sleuthing leads her straight to the killer. Riggs loads her novel with delectable, intricate details; for example, Rose learns that Jessica had stolen Barrington’s most noteworthy piece and that Delores, Sandy’s wife, told the artist that Jessica was pregnant. The author manages a few twists that readers won’t see coming. The reveal of the murderer’s identity, however, won’t be much of a surprise; it’s certainly not disappointing, but with only a few viable suspects, most readers will have figured it out long before. Rose’s story, on the other hand, is sublimely enigmatic; she’s a widow who used to work for the CIA, and she remains enamored with her former CIA colleague, Daniel Vargas, “the unattainable love of her life.” Some unexplained details are particularly enticing: an old bullet wound, for example, causes Rose pain in her left shoulder, and she has a scar across her cheek, possibly from a blade. The novel also refers to a number of her former CIA operations, such as when she helped MI6 find a Russian mole. Riggs’ prose is also crisp and concise throughout. In numerous scenes at the local diner, Table Talk, she effectively develops characters through dialogue while also keeping the main plot moving forward.
A not-so-mysterious murder mystery, but its enigmatic protagonist effortlessly carries the story.