Detective Katie Hassworth has resigned her teaching job when a student shot her and then himself in her classroom. She joins the student's father in a Key West detective agemcy and becomes involved in solving a murder in which the victim was bludgeoned with a conch shell. Katie talks with many suspects including the victim's daughter and son-in-law,husband,lover,secretary,Key West mayor, and Director of Key West housing development. She faces death, but triumphs as she confronts the villain and gets a confession.
This report prepared by Dorothy Francis
Five Star, Apr 2003, 25.95, 244 pp.
Though she has partnered with former Miami cop Mac McCartel for two years, former schoolteacher Katie Hasworth has been bonded and licensed as a private detective for a few months. Her confidence is limited so she is hesitant to take on a murder investigation especially with her mentor out of town even though her landlady and friend Diane Dade asks her to look into the death of her mother Alexa Chitting. Reluctantly Katie agrees to investigate the homicide ruled a robbery gone bad by the Key West police and concurred with by Mac.
Katie begins her inquiries at the scene of the crime, Alexa's office, where the culprit killed the victim using a conch shell that ironically symbolizes birth. Katie finds an obscure bullet that the cops overlooked and believes more than just a robbery occurred as Alexa was changing her will. However, she wonders who were the losers if Alexa had signed her revised will and would one of them kill to keep his or her inheritance? Katie learns the answer as she becomes a target when she gets too close.
This engaging private investigative tale hooks readers because the heroine lacks confidence yet courageously seeks to solve the homicide against staggering professional odds. The story line reads more like an amateur sleuth cozy as the violence is left off the pages and Katie is learning on the job. Katie is a delightful individual and the support cast enables the audience to understand her, especially her fears, much better even when they fail to cooperate. Fans will enjoy Dorothy Francis' straightforward Florida (no major whackos) mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner