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by P.K. Norton

Publisher: Stillwater River Publications

In this third installment of a series, a favor for a friend quickly turns into a serious headache.

In Norton’s tale, Boston insurance claims investigator Amy Lynch arranges for a homeowner’s policy through her company’s underwriting department for her boyfriend Pete’s cousin Andy. So naturally, Andy’s Dorchester apartment building soon is on fire. To make matters worse, Andy allowed an old friend’s fencing team to crash in a couple of empty apartments, and one of the athletes ends up dead in the cellar. Complicating the investigation are three items found in the cellar: bullets, marijuana, and, worst of all, the skeleton of a baby buried in a suitcase. Other wrinkles include a missing fencer, an abused woman, and a skulking drug dealer. That’s why Amy spends most of the novel out in the field, chasing down leads and avoiding uncomfortable questions back at the office. She leaves her capable assistant, Peggy, to run interference and do research for her. To complete her investigation, Amy must utilize acquaintances old and new: a nosy neighbor, a handsome arson investigator, an irascible detective, and a wise medical examiner. To solve this case, Amy has to go back decades to when it actually began. It’s a story that has a tragic beginning and a bittersweet ending. Leave it to Norton, who spent her entire career in the insurance industry, to make investigating claims seem exciting, a formidable task. This time out, after unearthing Nazi secrets in Paris in Dead Drop (2018), Amy is back on her home turf of Boston. That familiarity makes Amy more comfortable, as she has access to her support system, which includes Pete and Peggy. Amy even manages to hold her sharp tongue long enough to reach a truce with George, her office nemesis. The supporting cast is well developed, helping Amy to shine. The author’s foray into the world of fencing is intriguing yet has little to do with the mystery itself. But her narrative flies along pleasingly despite several zigs and zags along the way. Amy once again proves to be on point with her latest case.

This fast-moving mystery injects thrills and sizzle into claims settlement.