I am beginning to like this writer of detective mysteries a lot. She wrote Other People’s Skeletons, and Death Before Facebook, among about a kabillion other titles. She has something like four running series: the Skip Langdon Series, of which Death Before Facebook is one, the Rebecca Schwartz series, of which Other People’s Skeletons is one, The Paul Mcdonald series, of which True-Life Adventures is one, and the Talba Wallis series, one of which I am currently halfway through, Louisiana Hotshot.
Paul Mcdonald is a former reporter, who quit his job to become a mystery writer. Well, that isn’t working out too well, as he has quite a number of rejected manuscripts, and quite a number of bills to pay and food to buy, so he does ghostwriting to earn a buck.
One of the ghostwriting jobs he does is for a private investigator who loves to investigate, but hates to write up the reports, so he hired Paul to do his reports for him. Everybody happy. Until the one debriefing meeting they have where he collapses dead on Paul’s sofa. Well, that will end a meeting pretty quick, won’t it.
Turns out he died of a digitalis overdose — but has no heart problem, and has no digitalis. But he does have saccharine pills he carries around with him in a little plastic vial, but which turned out to have not only saccharine in it but a bunch of digitalis pills in it as well. Who wanted him dead?
Could it be connected to his current big case? A chemist Nobel prize winner’s wife and only child, a 7 year old sweetie, disappear. He and the celebrity reporter wife have been divorced with shared custody. the chemist is certain the wife abducted the daughter, and he hired the P.I. to find them.
As with all mysteries, not much is as it seems at first, and somehow Mcdonald gets involved with trying to solve the murder of the P.I. and find the wife and daughter. It turns out that the Nobel winner and his second wife and his brother are all candidates for the Fruitcake of the Month club, Paul gets almost murdered himself a couple of times, and somebody burns his house down. Fortunately, his beloved cat with the original name of Spot has the good sense to go next door so is not harmed. Life is looking grim, but Paul comes in contact with a really nifty lady, so every cloud, etc. etc. etc.
It is really hard to talk about mystery stories without either giving it all away, or revealing too much of the twisty plot so that you don’t want to bother reading it, so I will just leave it at this point, by telling you that it is a fine book. The author’s site calls it a cozy mystery, but for me, cozy mysteries have either a dithery older woman protagonist, or a ditzy cutesy younger woman protagonist and get themselves into cutesy dithery kinds of situations, and this was nothing like that. None of her series are. They just aren’t Jack Reacher noir type stories. Fine by me.