Celine, a beautiful woman trying to carve out a life in New York, is dead. Her childhood friend Maggie Sparkes flies in from Kenya to pack up her apartment and mourn. As Maggie digs into Celine’s recent past, she finds things that make her believe that Celine didn’t commit suicide. However she will need more than a gut feeling and a risque picture of a man to convince the police to reopen the case.
The description calls this a ‘romantic thriller’ and this is definitely more thriller and amateur detective story than a romance, much to my delight. This book flew by, keeping me interested and guessing who the culprit was. Indeed, there was even a doubt in my mind as to whether Celine herself made the final choice. The plot is well laid out and the characters fully engaging.
Maggie is heir to a fortune but despises how her family makes their money (which involves turning a blind eye to the environmental pollution their various businesses create). So she has devoted her life and money to various charity efforts. Celine was the daughter of Rosa, the Sparkes’ housemaid when Maggie was growing up. The girls became fast friends and stayed in touch as adults. Now with Rosa seriously ill, aging, and living in California, Maggie is the next logical choice to pack up Celine’s apartment and see to her affairs.
Celine was a budding antiques expert and her apartment is filled with her finds from over the years. She was building her collection as an investment for her future and working full time as a secretary. The plot thickens when Maggie finds several of Celine’s diaries and then her hand-written inventory of items. What these things reveal to Maggie, along with the photo of the mysterious man hidden in a lock box, solidifies Maggie’s believe that Celine did not commit suicide.
When it comes to possible suspects and their motives, we have several to choose from and this kept me guessing right up to the last hour of the book. There’s the nosy neighbor whose always baking cookies or serving up tea, the mystery man from the photo (who comes from a political family), Hans the antique appraiser (and Celine’s best friend), and Gradey (the building superintendent). With each character, there were good and bad sides, and most had something they wanted to keep private. These secondary characters were well-rounded, keeping my attention held fast as I learned more about each one.
There is a touch of romance, but it’s mostly there to move the plot forward. There was one really awkward, not at all planned steamy scene that came off a little ridiculous. It was the only such scene and it was quick, so it didn’t detract from the story. Celine is at the center of most of the romance, she herself being in love with a particular person even as another has a deep attachment to her.
I hope the author writes more stories along these same lines. I really enjoyed the suspense!
I received a copy at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Kate Rudd and Olivia Song each did great jobs on this book. I don’t know who took on the voice of Maggie and who took on the voice of Celine, however, both were done very well. Whoever performed Celine gave her a light Hispanic accent that was well done. Also, the narrator handled Celine’s emotions with just the right amount of drama or sadness or desperation as the scenes required. The narrator for Maggie was also great bringing Maggie to life as a no-nonsense and determined woman.