A woman who’s avoided danger all her life becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation.
Though she’s been brought up by a family of daredevils, Emma Trace has shied away from their life of thrills, with the very minor exception of partaking in her family’s yearly birthday betting ritual. Now that her 35th birthday is almost upon her, Emma’s been given clues she must solve to find her present, and her whole family has taken bets on whether she’ll solve them before the big day. Emma’s not worried. She’s recruited her longtime friend LaRue to help make the ever-pressing deadline. Her strategy seems to serve just fine until LaRue calls Emma with some epically bad news: LaRue arrived at her job at Sunny Side Up to find the cook, Jennifer Hazzard, dead in her pancake batter. Not only does Detective Pete Zahn find Emma’s library card at the scene of the crime, but after Jennifer stole Emma’s boyfriend, Sam, Emma wrote a fairly incriminating note that she fears could be seen as motive. Now Emma and LaRue have to clear Emma’s name. Even more importantly, Emma must solve her birthday riddle or face Uncle Ned, a man with a license to fly and who’s not afraid to use it.
Though wholly admirable in its attempt to blend humor and mystery, Speed’s debut falls short of its mark due to a failure to craft a sufficiently solid protagonist, and there are too many bells and whistles along the way.