A former FBI agent, planning to settle down and be a normal person on Long Island, smells a rat at her weekly lunch group.
When she met widowed hunk Josh, a top lawyer–turned–federal judge, and his now-14-year-old daughter, Eliza, Corie Geller thought she knew what she wanted. Instead of flying around the world interrogating terrorists for the government, she would marry Josh, become a wife and mother, and use her language skills to vet books in Arabic for U.S. publishers. That's how she landed at La Cuisine Délicieuse in Shorehaven, Long Island, lunching every Wednesday with the suburban self-employed. A landscaper, an eBay reseller, a low-end speechwriter, a photo retoucher, an internet data expert…but there’s one guy in the group who sets off her internal alarms. Pete Delaney sits in the same chair every week, won’t take his eyes off his car, keeps changing phones—it’s just weird. Even if he does check out to be what he claims to be—a freelance packaging designer—his many three-day out-of-town trips don’t quite make sense. So she and her dad, who's retired NYPD, launch a sub-rosa investigation. Following up every hunch, lead, and inkling she has about this guy is a full-time job. A full-time job for the reader, too. While the investigation goes on and on, often straining credibility, other possible plotlines in the book suffer. Josh’s dead wife, whose stuff is still all over the house. The daughter, whom Corie supposedly loves to pieces but who barely speaks a line of dialogue. The ex-boyfriend she still has the hots for. The boring husband she’s not so sure about. These characters and storylines are sketched in but languish as the Delaney investigation inexorably proceeds in excruciating detail. Still, Isaacs (A Hint of Strangeness, 2015, etc.) never forgets the need to charm the reader. Corie keeps up the nonstop sarcastic patter, and she really is a hoot. Her in-laws’ house: “they bought it from Mrs. Havisham then added indoor plumbing.” Pete Delaney’s pants: “strictly old-guy—the baggy kind that make men look as if penises hadn’t yet been invented.”
Isaacs’ wit and wisecracks can’t save this one.