Scottoline’s trademark clever writing and a plot built around an emotional dilemma are both hampered by some hard-to-like characters and an amateur sleuth who exercises poor judgment, putting herself and her family at risk. The story gains traction in the latter half when the investigation and suspense ratchet up. The concept, “Who is family and how far will you go for them?” is interesting even if you question the actions.
Jill hasn’t seen her stepdaughters since she divorced their father years earlier. Then Abby shows up drunk and distraught with the news that her father is dead. Abby believes he was murdered and wants Jill to help her prove it. Soon Jill is hacking into her ex’s computer and following up on clues. She thinks a car might be following her, and Abby disappears. Although she’s needed by her own daughter, her fiancé and the patients of her medical practice, Jill can’t give up on her need to find answers — and Abby. (ST. MARTIN’S, Apr., 384 pp., $27.99)