Echelon, Aug 2009, $13.99
Former cleaning lady Peri Minneopa is now a licensed private investigator though she does not carry a gun. She promised her lover Placenta Police Detective Skip Carlton that she would only work safe cases like background checks and taking photos from a distance of cheating spouses. Her latest case involves a client Benny Needles who is a Dean Martin fanatic seeking an ice tray in his freezer used by his hero with an autograph he doesn’t want rubbed off by the ice.
Instead she finds a severed hand with an expensive ring on a finger. Benni swears he has no idea whose hand it is, where the rest of the body is, and how it got into his freezer. Skip questions Benny and believes the frightened Martin aficionado is telling the truth that he is innocent and ignorant re the hand. They trace the ring to a homeless woman who admits she stole from a woman in a nursing home. It was supposed to be a copy of the Forever Roses ring to be auctioned at Christies in order for Kevin Conway to pay off his gambling debts. He had no idea that his ring was a copy and he wants to get the real ring back. So do other people; as someone steals it from the police evidence room. Peri goes after the killer, ignoring Skip’s warning about murderers’ murder, but soon understands what her boyfriend meant.
Peri is a strong willed person who once she makes up her mind nothing stops her; Skip can nudge, but not budge his obstinate girlfriend. She wants to prove to herself she is a P.I. by solving the case though she understands her first mission is to keep the eccentric Benny out of jail as she believes he is innocent. Her lover reluctantly supports her because he fears she will risk her life with or without him. The investigative story line is fun to follow with it ties to Dino and the romance between the cop and the rookie, who behaves somewhat like an amateur sleuth as she learns the ropes the hard way which enhances an enjoyable whodunit.