Author Jane Heller makes a truly delightful debut, with her slyly sarcastic, insightful, and humorous tale of a 1980s woman learning to cope with the harsh realities of the 90s.

Alison Waxman Koff led a charmed life, at least until the stock market crash of 1987. In one fell swoop, she lost both her money and her husband, who prudently decided to return to his first wife.

Alison must find a job, but soon discovers that most of her "skills" are not high in demand. She does have one asset, however; she knows how to clean a house. So Alison finds herself in the unlikely position of maid to sleaze biographer Melanie Moloney. Melanie's current project is a no-holds-bared account of the life of Layton's most illustrious citizen, Senator Alistair Downs.

Real estate photographer Cullie Harrington never dreamed he would wind up falling for a former Jewish Princess, who treated him like a peon when he arrived to do a photo layout of her home. But after discovering Alison's "secret" life as a maid, Cullie is hooked.

When Melanie Moloney suddenly turns up murdered, Alison finds herself the prime suspect. Alison is being set up, and since the police are no help, she and Cullie will have to uncover the real killer themselves.

(June, 400 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith