As reporter Irene Kelly investigates her Aunt Briana's death, she learns all about the longstanding feuds between several branches of her extended family and becomes the number one suspect in a murder case. Kelly's part of the family split with her Aunt Briana and her husband decades ago for reasons that Kelly has never really understood, but which involve bigamy, murder,illiteracy, and of course, money. Kelly's first task is to locate her cousin Travis, who she hasn't seen since childhood, and inform him of his mother's untimely death. Next, Kelly has to protect him from whoever murdered his mother. While investigating the case, Kelly encounters a violent man in a wet suit, a slightly unhinged inventor, a storyteller named Cosmo, and some unsavory residents of a trailer park - and learns that she is distantly related to most of these odd characters.
This is Jan Burke's sixth book about the adventures of Irene Kelly, a sassy journalist who lives in sunny southern California with her husband (a police detective), drives a Karmann Ghia, and seems to be a magnet for trouble. In this case, the trouble is that everyone is lying, even people with good intentions. Kelly's cousin is a capable and seasoned liar, a skill that comes in handy in several sticky situations. When deceit isn't enough, Kelly's best friend Rachel leaps to their aid with flying fists and tough talk. Fans of mysteries by Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky are likely to enjoy Jan Burke's writing. Irene Kelly is a likeable, approachable heroine - an ordinary middle-aged woman who manages to get the best of the bad guys by relying on her wits and her friends. -Jill Marquis