Off-off-off-off Broadway actress Kate McCall inherits her father’s New York private investigations business after he’s a whole lot of murdered in a life insurance company elevator.
A concrete-carrying, ballroom-dancing construction mule says he fell off the scaffolding, can never work—or dance—again, and sues the contractor for a whole lot of money.
Kate assembles the eccentric tenants of her brownstone and her histrionic acting troupe to help her crack the cases, and they stir up a whole lot of trouble.
But not as much as Kate, who sticks her nose in the middle of the multi-million-dollar life-insurance scam her father was investigating and gets a whole lot of arrested for murdering a medical examiner.
Will Kate bust the insurance scam, prove who really killed the examiner—and her father—and get out of jail in time to pull off the ballroom sting of the decade? She might, but it’s going to be a whole lot of hilarious.
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.
Leder toes the line between absurd and realistic with this novel with wonderful balance, displaying the right set of circumstances and components that pull off the strange events in this story and make it work smoothly and effectively. The narrative is easy to read and the story is engaging and captivating, making it compelling to read and very hard to put down.
From early on the humour is evident but it never stands out awkwardly, nor does Leder try too hard. The combination of unique and eccentric characters and an intriguing storyline makes the story light while not taking away the serious elements of the story and it gives it a feeling of genuineness. Leder is skilled at saying a lot without saying much and he uses the narrative and dialogue remarkably well to provide information without breaking the flow of the story. The dialogue and character interactions are also excellent and they demonstrate character personalities and show relationships nicely.
Kate is a likeable narrator, she is witty and quick, but she is real and honest with herself which is admirable. Being a PI means Kate is a good surmise of people, she isn’t too judgemental, she is just very observant. I liked that Kate was older; it changes the feel of the story and allows for a different type of story with different people and different interactions.
What I also liked about Kate was that she is proud of herself, but this didn’t make her arrogant; she knows what she is capable of and when to ask for help, and isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. There is no doubt she is clever, resourceful, and brave, but she is also passionate and she knows what she wants from her life which may make her idealistic to some, but it makes her happy.
The residents at the Brownstone are a quirky and peculiar bunch that is worthy of Hey Arnold and their uniqueness and interactions with one another make you smile and provide immense joy as you read. Even in their limited roles Leder brings the characters to life offering up their whole personality and life on the page, aided by Kate’s explanations but also by their interactions with one another. Other characters are developed and enjoyable and through Kate’s assessments and Leder’s minimal expression, getting a sense of who each character is is easy.
There are a few crazy and adventurous moments that can seem a tad outlandish but these moments are not without consequence and Kate’s knowledge as a PI and skills as an actress come in handy though not always with favourable results. I loved that everything was not perfect and there are real mistakes and consequences, it allowed the story to have surprises, danger, and excitement all the while maintaining a realistic feel to the story.
There are multiple points of interest to retain your attention and with surprises big and small Leder keeps it fun while being mysterious and filling you with anticipation. The humour makes you smile while the mystery pulls you in and the realness keeps you reading to the last page. It is a wonderful and surprising read.
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