Rebecca has given us a very well written, if short, novella to enjoy. Her writing style is similar to that of Kim Harrison, so fans of Kim's works should take a moment out of their day and pick up "In the Wash"! I'm looking forward to future works from this author.
The protagonist of this story, Rona Shively, bears a superficial resemblance to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Both are sassy, loudmouthed single gals, living alone with their pet for company. Both drive crappy cars, both are short and too pretty to be taken seriously in their chosen line of work, and both like to eat greasy food. The author was obviously inspired by Evanovich's success but chose to take her mysteries in a different direction. Instead of writing fluffy slapstick Benston takes on a darker subject.
As a struggling private detective Rona Shively has seen a lot of strange things in her day, but Gilbert Delvecchio is definitely a first. He needs her to find his missing ex-wife. The ex is now remarried and living under a different name but they have still remained friends and Gil is worried.
The case turns out to be much more complex than Rona anticipated. One of her contacts is murdered and she becomes afraid the same fate will befall anyone she lets into her confidence. This leaves her working alone without a safety net. Her paranoia follows her into her personal life where she pushes away her suitors. Rona is determined to not ask for help from anyone, not even if she really needs it.
At just under one hundred pages, this book is more of a novella than a novel. For such a thin volume it is surprising just how much plot is crammed into the pages. Rebecca Benston doesn't waste any words. She uses the flow of the narrative to fill us in on Rona's back-story and motivation while still keeping the action moving along to the inevitable conclusion.
This series should be popular with readers who enjoy tough, out-spoken female leads. The next one in the series is expected in July titled Under Lock and Key.
Rona Shively is a private investigator. With her small frame, no one would ever believe that Rona was capable of succeeding in her chosen career. Yet she is doing okay. Rona's good friend, Norman Dent, is not only helping Rona find and purchase a decent vehicle, but also sent Rona her latest client.
Gilbert Delvecchio is looking for his ex-wife, Lucy, who often calls Gilbert to check in and chat awhile. Lucy is now named Luther Janetti and seems to have dropped off the radar. Gilbert is worried, especially since Janus Gofski, a big crime boss, has a hit out on Luther! What is the hit for? Who really knows? It could be something to do with gambling, messing up with the laundry mat business Gofski had given Luther, or perhaps because Luther married Gofski's favorite niece (Rita Gofski) without informing anyone that he used to be a she. Seems Gofski is interested in Gilbert's meeting with Rona too. Two of Gofski's henchmen have been following Gilbert and now they begin following Rona.
Rona starts doing what she does best, research. Rona begins to slowly put pieces of the puzzle together, never stopping to think that Gofski's men might harm anyone crazy enough to help her case along. Rona realizes that she had best complete this case fast or she may be the next one to die.
**** This is a short, but expensive, mystery novel. There is less than one hundred pages in the book, however, the book is oversized. I figure it rounds out to about two hundred pages in a normal sized paperback. The action moves along at a pretty good pace. I never had time to get bored. The only real problem is that after page seventy-five typos began to appear. (Nothing a spell checker would catch though.) Do not worry. Chances are most people will never even notice the errors. All-in-all, this mystery is definitely worth your time to read. I hope to catch the next case of Rona Shively in the near future. ****
This novella is recommended for: 1. Fans of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich 2. People who like murder mysteries 3. People with short attention spans 4. All of the above
Just in case you fall under category 3, I'll make this quick.
Rona Shively, Private Detective, 38 years old, petite, single and available, did time, domestically challenged, foul-mouthed, drives ugly car and has no aversion to alcohol or fast food.
Locate missing person
a. Missing person's uncle is a crime boss b. Missing person has undergone significant lifestyle changes c. People are starting to get killed d. Effeminate neighbor is getting too close for comfort e. Nothing appears to be as it seems
Humor, mystery and murder combine here in an all-too-short but thoroughly enjoying read, and I'm really looking forward to the next Rona Shively Story.
Rona Shively's life IS full of surprises. As a private investigator, she finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when she takes on a missing person's case: looking for an ex-wife who has changed her lifestyle drastically. As though that didn't present enough trouble, Rona escapes murder by a thread until it finally surprises her 'In The Wash'--room that is. During all the difficulties, Rona is faced with a chance to love and be loved, but will her tendency not to trust anyone keep her from this very aspect of life a woman desires so badly? I liked Rona Shively because she's so down-to-earth. She's tough, but underneath that toughness lies a tender heart. The story is good, the plotting great. Rebecca Benston draws you into the story from the first page. Read the book. It's a delightful, but short, mystery.