A trip to deliver their son to college pits a Texas family against several dangerous criminals.
Romance writer E.J. Pugh almost ruined her marriage by her inability to resist solving crimes (Dead Weight, 2012, etc.). Now, E.J. and Willis are back together with their son, Graham, who’s starting college, and their three same-age girls: their natural daughter, Megan, their adopted daughter, Bess, and their foster child, Alicia. They return home from their college trip to find a leather satchel with no identification someone threw in the back of their truck. Alicia, who loves the satchel, claims it as a book bag. Unfortunately, two nefarious characters being paid to reclaim the bag are willing to go to any extremes to get it. The Pughs’ police officer neighbor Luna spoils their first attempt when she finds them sneaking up on the empty house. The hapless crooks’ every attempt to steal the satchel is foiled until they kidnap Alicia. Graham, who’s in love with Alicia, returns from college to take part in the search. In the meantime, Willis’ disapproving mom is on a church trip to Washington, D.C., where her help in investigating the mysterious disappearance of her roommate persuades her that she has a talent for sleuthing, too. Now that his family is involved, Willis encourages E.J. in her sleuthing propensities. But the best luck falls to the children, especially once Alicia gains the sympathy of one of the crooks.
A rollicking mystery with plenty of red herrings and amusing characters who could have been friends of Stephanie Plum.