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by Sofie Ryan
Berkley Prime Crime, January 2020
302 pages
ISBN: 198480233X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After feeding Elvis and setting the green-eyed feline up to watch Jeopardy!, his favorite TV program, Sarah picks up Rose and Mr. P to attend the reception celebrating the North Harbor waterfront renewal project. At the party, a somewhat intoxicated fellow bumps into Sarah as he makes his way over to confront Joe Roswell, yelling at him. Roswell breaks off the confrontation and leaves Christopher Healy standing alone.

Healy approaches the bar where the bartender shakes her head at his request and sets a cup of coffee in front of him. A little later Sarah spots Healy take a sip of coffee, grab his chest and collapse. Sarah and Nick rush to his side and begin CPR until paramedics arrive.

The next day, Nick, an investigator for the medical examiner, questions Sarah about she saw – it turns out that Healy was poisoned with aconite. Then Sarah finds out that Mr. P's longtime friend Elliot Casey is married to Healy's mother, Nora, and he wants to help. The investigation becomes a case for Charlotte's Angels, a detective agency formed by Charlotte Elliot, Rose Jackson and Liz French, all old friends of Sarah's Gram, primarily as a favor to Mr. P, Rose's boyfriend.

Motives seem to involve the source of Healy's money and the legal suit over who owns Gibson's Point. Nora, Healy's mom, is ill with cancer and Elliot wants Healy to give up his purchase of the land and use the funds for an experimental drug program. Joe Roswell is a real estate developer with financial troubles and needs the land for a new development. Another person of interest is Ross Gorham who invented a system that will keep the Point from sliding into the ocean – and he needs Roswell's project to proceed to demonstrate the strength of his new system.

Sarah balances managing Second Chance, her re-purpose store, with helping Mr. P and the Angels pursue their sleuthing efforts. While Sofie Ryan concocts a complex mystery, the story is a wonderful blend of familiar, well-developed characters, smart dialogue, comfortable relationships and a delightful visit to North Harbor, Maine. And, finally, there's Elvis, in his own unique way interacting with many of the characters uttering an appropriate ‘Mrrr' or ‘Merow' or murping his response to a question. As Rose explains to Sarah, "Elvis is very intelligent and has excellent people skills." Not to mention adding a little chuckle here and there.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, December 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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