Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Well Read and Dead-Catherine O’Connell

Well Read and Dead
Catherine O’Connell
Harper, Mar 24 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061673252

While her penthouse is being renovated, socialite Pauline Cook is on Gianfranco’s yacht cruising the Mediterranean. It was when the cruise for two ended she realized he was married. It is in Paris she learns that her stock portfolio mostly invested in Enron is worthless. She rushes home to Chicago to find contractor Tag McKay overseeing the renovation. She is attracted to him though he is not in her social class and besides she needs to marry a rich man right away that hopefully she can love while he keeps her in the lifestyle she is accustomed to.

Before she goes husband hunting, Pauline visits her closest friend Whitney Armstrong to pick up her cat Fleur. Whitney’s husband Jack says his wife is missing and offers Pauline five million dollars to find her; he later raises the reward to ten million. With bills mounting and no income to pay them, though way out of her element Pauline begins a search that leads her to Thailand, from there to Cambodia where Jack’s factory is located and back to Thailand where she begins getting answers. When she returns to the States, a woman she does not know tries to kill Pauline.

Pauline is a member of the hoi polloi jet setters in which olde money is everything and those without are not worthy of their attention except as servants. However, her inquiry takes her into worlds she never imagined; this changes her. Her husband hunting amidst the Fortune Five Hundred is amusing and ironic when she falls in love with a middle class blue collar working stiff. As Pauline matures from spoiled snobbish socialite to valuing all types of people, she makes Catherine O’Connell’s fine thriller WELL READ AND DEAD an engaging read.

Harriet Klausner