In this first of the Hannah Pryce series, the protagonist is a newspaper columnist who teaches creative writing to San Diego prison inmates. She is a police detective's widow with two grown children, and a recovering alcoholic.Befriended by her husband's ex-partner, Dave Mayfield, she is drawn into the murder of a prominent actress, Margo Keene. It appears that Margo was stabbed while in a bubble bath, but the Medical Examiner discovers she died from an unidentified poisonous gas.Mayfield and his partner, Rayburn, question Margo's husband, Victor, who implicates the theater prop man (who is killed in jail the next night). Liz Parker, the theater wardrobe mistress, dies from the same poisonous gas. No apparent motive can be found for any of these three murders. At Dave's suggestion, Hannah interviews the suspects for her newspaper column to gain insights into possible motives. Actress Polly Phillips resents Margo for snooping into her private affairs. Suzanne Langley hates Margo because of her long time affair with her husband. Walt Langley loved Margo and suspects she knew too much about Victor's business dealings. Victor seems the grieving husband, but Hannah believes otherwise. Gerda Wilhem, Margo's maid, appears devoted to Margo, but Hannah believes her to be hiding secrets as well.The investigation proves that Victor and Polly Phillips are involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Gerda Wilhem and her "live-in" friend, Frederick Schmidt, are Polly Phillips' parents with access to the poisonous gas formula. When Hannah seems too close to the truth, Frederick Schmidt attempts to force her car off the road and kill her. When this fails, he kidnaps her and forces her into a drunken stupor for four days. She regains consciousness in a deserted hanger on the Mexican border. Frederick and Polly are there, planning to kill her. Hannah goads Polly into a confession of the murders. While left alone, she calls Dave Mayfield on an airplane radio. He arrives with officers and the DEA. After Hannah safely escapes, the police open fire, killing Polly and Frederick.Safe with Dave, Hannah ponders their life together. "Another cop?" she says. "Why would I want to do that . . . again?"
About Marci Martin
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Published January 31, 2001
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Horror.