A newly single mother gets help from her friends in De Vita’s (Doctor's Orders, 2006) murder mystery.
In Oak Brook, Ill., Ellie Briotti’s life has officially fallen apart. Her cheating husband, Nicky, confiscated her car, shut off her cellphone service, and ordered the guards to keep her off the property. For 20 years, she relied on him for everything; now, along with her young son, she’s faced with starting over. As Nicky’s mistress enjoys herself in the family’s penthouse in the city, Ellie retreats to her mother’s home, where she slowly attempts to turn her troubled life around. But just as the future seems to brighten, she becomes the prime suspect in a high-profile murder case. No matter how adamantly she denies the charges, the evidence stacks higher and higher against her. Cleverly crafted with laughter and tears, the novel begins with betrayal and swings into the journey of a modern-day woman. In fact, women drive the action: The female cast shines as a complex compilation of goal-oriented individuals with their own sets of quirks, morals and flaws. They react to the world’s prejudice and stick together, no matter what. Ellie and her best friend, a businesswoman, are seemingly generic, while the supporting cast includes Ellie’s hilarious mother, who roams the house on Rollerblades, and two nuns with a penchant for breaking the law. The interaction between them is brilliant as the story zips among Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta, suburban Oak Brook and Chicago. Chapters effectively build tension and longer streaks of exposition for character development. Symbolism grows around mundane habits that, in the real world, would seem inconsequential, but here signify suffering, doubt and frustration. Midway through the book, the groundwork has been laid and the pace rockets into a world of drug trafficking, sex trade and undercover police investigations. While working with these dark topics, the author skillfully weaves in a dose of levity without any heavy-handedness. As a result, readers jump between gasps of shock during the murder investigation and stints of uncontrolled laughter as Ellie’s ridiculous “posse” mobilizes into action.
An emotional, fun-filled romp.