Mother and daughter lawyers team up to solve the murder of a Texas associate.
Galveston attorney Sandra Salinsky arrives at the beach house of high-powered lawyer Phillip Parker expecting to have lunch with her lover, Stuart Quentin, Phillip’s new partner. Instead, she finds the household in turmoil because of the host’s death following a fall from a balcony. A distraught Kitty Fulton, the girlfriend of Phillip’s associate Raymond Rivers, tearfully confesses to accidentally pushing Phillip and asks Sandra to defend her. When Kitty claims that Phillip lay injured on the grass after the fall, Sandra, pointing out that this scenario would make Kitty innocent of murder, takes the case. Although Sandra agonizes about breaking the news to her salty mother, Erma Townley, Phillip’s best friend and veteran law partner, her resilient mom wants to find the killer, and provides the little-known fact that Kitty was Phillip’s daughter. The ruthlessness of prosecutor Edgar Saul and some circumstantial evidence implicating Kitty prompt Sandra to undertake her own investigation. Erma does likewise. Two other suspects merit special scrutiny: Phillip’s long-time girlfriend Lizzie Haynes, whose instability and alcoholism are revealed during Erma’s probing over luncheon, and Phillip’s hulking caretaker Bubba Carruthers, in whom Sandra senses an underlying rage.
Baker (My First Murder, 2002, etc.) has crafted a refreshingly straightforward whodunit. Multiple sleuths on parallel tracks—one breezy, one brassy—add spice.