What was Susie Gersten’s perfect husband doing in the apartment of a medium-rent call girl?
Getting stabbed with a pair of scissors, it turns out, following 80 not-very-suspenseful pages devoted to filling in the back story after Jonah goes missing. On paper the Gerstens seem perfect. They have a lovely home in Shorehaven, Long Island, funded by Jonah’s lucrative Manhattan plastic-surgery practice (Susie’s floral-design business is more of a hobby). They have adorable four-year-old triplets (in vitro, natch), two live-in Norwegian au pairs and a full-time housekeeper—it’s a pretty great life. Jonah, narrator Susie tells us, was devoted to her and not the cheating kind; we tend to believe her, since she rarely has a good word to say about anyone else. Susie is a trademark zingy Isaacs heroine (Past Perfect, 2007, etc.), happy to tell us all about her designer clothes, her better-than-decent looks and her fondness for life’s finer things. It’s no big shock when she confesses, “I’d never been the plumbing-the-depths type,” but she’s fun to be with and mildly witty about her snobbish in-laws, her dismal parents, the entitled senior partner in Jonah’s group practice and the dowdy homicide chief who rushes to declare the call girl the perp. The semi-snide repartee was fresher three decades ago in Compromising Positions (1978), and Susie’s grief at losing Jonah never has much emotional force, though her determination to vindicate her marriage rings true. None of this is meant to be taken terribly seriously, even after Susie joins forces with her elegant grandmother to investigate the holes in the DA’s case. There’s only one other viable suspect, and when the homicide chief finally admits that Susie has fingered the real murderer, our heroine seems more concerned about not being thanked properly than she is happy that the killer of darling Jonah is going to jail.
The mystery is barely there, but Isaacs’ fans will enjoy another sharp-tongued romp through the New York privileged classes and their foibles.