Beginning with the introduction of a captivating, secretive woman into the life of Ronnie Lake, a tough 50-something who'd do anything to protect her remaining family, STUNNER: A RONNIE LAKE MYSTERY quickly turns from a mystery into an intricate unraveling of one woman's past - and its repercussions for Ronnie's present.
True, the book does follow a typical mystery format, with its unlikely detective following clue after clue until finally arriving at the answers she seeks. In fact, the presenting of one lead after another almost feels too easy, even formulaic. Ronnie gets suspicious of the beautiful interloper Juliana very early on, and she typically has no trouble picking up the information she needs to pursue her next lead, which takes out some of the tension typically associated with a mystery.
However, Ronnie's flawed, not-exactly-expert detective work also adds flavor to a genre full of hardboiled types. And more intriguingly still, the story's real focus is Juliana, whose history Ronnie uncovers piece by piece from childhood to the present. Through her dogged investigation, Ronnie finds that Juliana's story is far more adventurous than she's letting on - but also that the mysterious lady's past is full of moments that make both Ronnie and the reader sympathetic to her adult self.
For an atypical detective novel, STUNNER provides a lot in the way of character detail, and it especially shines when portraying its female leads.