Veteran author Susan Conant is the co-author of her daughter's first novel, and the result is a well-crafted mystery.

Smart, sassy Chloe Carter, a Boston graduate student studying social work, finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. When her romance with her hunky neighbor ends, Chloe goes on a blind date with Eric Rafferty to Essence, a restaurant in which Eric is considering investing. Eric abruptly leaves their table to answer his cell phone and when Chloe searches for him, she finds his body. Someone has stabbed Eric to death, and the police's prime suspect is Josh Driscoll, a chef at Magellan, a restaurant owned by Madeline Rock, whose ex-husband, Tim, owns Essence. As romance heats up between Josh and Chloe, she vows to find Eric's killer -- but all the clues continue to point to Josh.

This witty novel has both a slew of suspects and sizzling romance. A delightful debut. (Mar., 304 pp., $22.95)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick