This Portland, Maine mystery has it all—a wounded, complicated heroine, a multi-faceted investigation with save-the-world implications, and oodles of atmosphere. Best of all, this is just the first in what promises to be a great new mystery series.
Dee Rommel is a Portland cop on extended leave after losing her leg in a fall off a building while chasing a criminal. She now works for an old family friend who runs a private detective agency. Dee wants to keep her head down and be the bookkeeper as she ponders her future, but neither her personality nor the business are going to give Dee what she thinks she wants.
The boss is out of town donating a kidney when Philip Claren walks in. Claren is a mashup of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg who wants the agency to find his adult daughter before she marries a potential gold-digger. Taking after him in the brains department, the genius daughter recently left her laboratory and sent him a note about the pending nuptials with the family safe word in it.
Feeling unequal to the task, Dee reluctantly takes on the job and heads to Chebeaque Island via ferry. Not only is it the wedding destination, but Chebeague is also the safe word.
As the tale unfolds, Claren and his daughter are involved in research that connects artificial intelligence with bionic technology. Is the pending marriage an attempt to steal world-changing tech secrets? The reveal presages the open letter recently signed by Elon Musk and other leading tech notables expressing concern over the unregulated rise of AI and calling for a 6-month development moratorium.
Beyond the Claren family, the cast of characters includes Gordy, Dee’s irascible but generous boss; Abshir, a Somali student with a talent for surveillance; and Robbie Donato, a smart cop who sees through Dee’s often prickly exterior and would like to know her much better.
The prose is swift and punchy. The setting is so real you can almost smell the ocean breeze on the boat to Chebeaque. Dee narrates with an inner voice that is tough yet appealing, making this mystery a great mix of exciting plot and colorful personalities.
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