Dunne, 23.95, 288 pp.
In Lowell, Massachusetts, Paula Jensen hires private sleuth Alex Rasmussen because she has not heard from her daughter Michelle in two days. Paula explains that Michelle was visiting her father Ben Nickerson in California, but should have been home by now even with Ben breaking their agreement and driving her home cross country, but they should have arrived already.
Alex makes inquiries and quickly learns that the seemingly perfect family paragon of the Jensen household is a fake. Michelle's sister Katie insists that her sibling has a strained relationship with her mom and especially her stepfather Ross. The local Police Chief Delcastro feels there is nothing to investigate as two bickering parents are involved and the teen will show up. Besides Michelle missing, Ben also seems to have vanished. When the last known person to admit to seeing Ben alive suddenly dies in a dubious car crash, Alex knows that his client's teenage daughter in danger, but anyone who might be able to help seems lethargically reluctant to get involved.
In some ways this delightful private investigate tale reads more like a cozy as the cast led by the hero is passive to the extreme of wondering if anyone is breathing in Massachusetts. Thus anyone seeking brawls inside a suburban noir should look elsewhere. However, readers who appreciate a solid leg work sleuth tale starring an amiable protagonist will enjoy David Daniel's cold footed detective story that is no warm day at the beach.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner