Burke continues her genre-bending saga of a movie-crazed malaprop who yearns to be a private eye.
Now that her boyfriend Mickey Paxton’s at home in New York keeping an eye on Bonkers, her cat, Annabelle Starkey (Jump the Gun, 2013) feels safe visiting her parents, who just moved to Portland from Palo Alto. Safe, that is, until she discovers that someone on the plane took her backpack stuffed with personal items and left her holding a similar bag containing nothing but a puffy jacket and a Beretta Bobcat. A mysterious caller named Claudia sends Annabelle scurrying to the Japanese Garden in the hope of retrieving her belongings, but on her arrival she finds Claudia knocked out and her backpack nowhere in sight. Retreating to her parents’ to soothe herself with a DVD of The Heat, she’s promptly kidnapped, duct-taped, and thrown into a van. She escapes barely in time to have drinks and dinner with her parents’ gay neighbors, Sal and Drew, who’ve just agreed to become the elder Starkeys’ partners in Sunshine Bakery. Eventually, Mickey and Annabelle’s best friend, tough-guy cop Luis Maldonado, arrives in Portland, but even he can’t prevent Annabelle from getting riled up over Anne Elliot’s abusive father in Persuasion. So Mickey himself, who can’t resist pleas like “Kiss me again, like it’s your last chance to kick the ball on second down,” rushes to Annabelle’s side to help her discover who took her undies, who cold-cocked Claudia, and who the hell owns the Beretta.
What Annabelle would undoubtedly call a “hard-boiled cozy” is unlikely to appeal much to fans of either, unless they’re really stuck on Portland.