What is it lately with the books I am reading? Marple: Twelve New Mysteries, Killers of a Certain Age, and now Secret Lives, they all seem to feature feisty ladies of a mature age. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something? Or perhaps people are finally realizing that women with experience can kick some serious butt. Yeah, that's probably it.
So...take a boarding house in the DC area, fill it with operatives from various agencies, and then have the owner/operator be a retired FBI agent. Shake slightly (don't stir), and you will find yourself with a delightful cocktail of interdepartmental competition, overlapping jurisdictions, gunshots, large sums of currency, trips to the ER, and related pastimes.
75-year-old Ethel Crestwater is far from the quiet little old lady that strangers might take her for at first glance. She can spot a tail in heavy traffic, fly an airplane, has contacts in offices throughout the District, and starts each day with her RBG workout (inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Although she has no children or grandchildren, her double-first-cousin-twice-removed is one of her boarders. For some things it is best to depend on family.
This book keeps you on your toes. Where do everyone's loyalties really lie? Are all these agents really working under orders, or are some of them off the reservation? Does Ethel know more than she is telling her cousin and the authorities, or does she just have better instincts from all her years of experience? You find yourself hoping that she and cousin Jesse both survive, because then they can have further adventures and he can learn from her example.
Those who are familiar with DC and the surrounding counties will recognize many of the landmarks and areas mentioned; it grounds the setting of the story very well. Between the place, the people, and the pace of the action, there are no dull moments.
Expected publication date October 11. I received an advance copy from the publisher for review purposes.