Berkley, April 2002, 22.95, 320 pp.
The central coastal California town of San Celina is home to chief of police Gabe Ortiz and his wife Benni Harper. Although Gabe was once an undercover narcotics officer in the big city, receiving an adrenaline high from collaring a drug dealer, he is content now to work in this quiet college and retirement village. However, whenever a homicide does occur, it seems that Benni is in the middle of it, much to Gate's consternation.
Homicide is the farthest thing from Benni's mind now. Her best friend is about to marry her cousin (two people she cherishes) and her grandmother is getting married after forty years of being a widow. Benni is all caught up in wedding preparations when Gabe's ex-lover comes to town determined to win him back. To get her mind off her heartache, Benni becomes involved in another homicide investigation, one that is fifty years old.
It's interesting to see Benni solve a case that is over a half a century old using old newspaper reports and historical documents. Although STEPS TO AN ALTAR is billed as a mystery, it is as much a romance with Benni having an admirer who finally comes out of the closet. Told in the first person from Gabe and Benni's point of view, readers are able to feel close to both protagonists and understand their feelings and actions.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner