Vanessa Rossi’s best friend Penelope Newhouse has been brutally murdered at City Hall, where she worked in a position senior to Vanessa. Friends and competitors since USC, Vanessa learns more of Penny’s secrets after her murder than she knew before. As Penny clamoured her way to the top, did political candidates use her to undo their opponents? Did one of them murder her? It’s easy to pin the blame on those corrupt politicians, but perhaps, Detective Rachel Storme surmises, someone closer to Penny had more of a motive to want her dead and the politicians aren’t as bad as they seem. “Unbeknownst to the average person, the rapists, child molesters, and murderers aren’t lurking in the shadows; they’re the neighbor, the friendly teacher, or coach. They’re the co-worker or even the boss” (291).
Vanessa and Rachel’s distinct voices as co-narrators help Alretha Thomas weave a personal as well as a stark and creepy who-done-it story. While Vanessa plays the part of empathizer, knowing and accepting Penny warts and all, Rachel is a skeptic from beginning to end. She’s not satisfied until she considers all angles of the case and each suspect in turn. The two narrate every other chapter, ending each with a cliffhanger. Alretha Thomas excels at suspense; with a false ending that deepens the plot, she keeps us rapt until the very end. This third in a series of Detective Rachel Storme mysteries includes book club questions. Author site