Crooked Paths:Deb Pines
Sisters are supposed to be best friends and hopefully will be there for each other for a lifetime. Connie de Palma and Marie Attenborough are sisters but when you meet them you might wonder just how close they are not.
Connie arrives in Chautauqua with one goal in mind: to sell her house. Learning that her brother in law ,Frank, her sister’s husband was double billing her for a lot of things for the house like taxes, fees, home improvements and more. Connie did not realize she was paying him twice until her accountant realized it, she was paying him twice. Added in there were other expenses she was being changed for twice and when Connie approaches her sister and talks it out it turns into a heated argument with threats on both sides. Just who did the house belong to and could she sell it and get the money? Added in Connie just married husband number 3 and he appeared to run a huge garbage collection business was he in financial trouble? Jonas her assistant came with her to begin the repairs needed to get the house ready for viewing and setting up an appointment with the real estate agent.
Frank would send her accountant the usual Chautauqua bills for Connie’s share of the taxes, institution fees, repairs twice! And her accountant paid them twice. But the bills were paid but the repairs were not done. Marie defended the accusations hurled at her by Connie and Mattie tried to temper her and say she’d look into it but when Connie said she’s selling the threats came from both sides and the end result was soon to come.
Lennie is Connie’s daughter who seems estranged from her mother and not that close to her family. Her mother did not like her lifestyle and refused to pay her college tuition and Lennie stayed with her aunt. Lennie was watching television with Frank while Marie and her mother were having their heated discussion.
Mimi Goldman and her 94-year-old friend, Sylvia decided to try and find Connie when a frantic call from her husband came that she missed the meeting with the real estate agent and her calls went to voice mail. Jonas her assistant disappeared, Lennie did not respond to her calls and Bill Johnson her neighbor who wanted to ask her about a painting hanging in her house and where it came from was missing too. Fear that he was hurt his wife too wanted Mimi Goldman to search for him but what she and Sylvia find in the gourde was not what they expected. Mimi is more like the town sleuth and with the computer skills of her son Jake there is no stopping her. Finding Connie’s body and where was suspect but when the police discount her theory that it was murder Mimi get fired up to prove them wrong. With Jonas her assistant and Sylvia waiting in the car they carefully climb and circumvent the path that leads them to find Connie’s body. Connie retraced her steps up the muddy trail, called 911 and Detective John Flynn caught the case but from the start he wanted nothing to do with Mimi and when the report from the coroner stated death from drug overdose things took on a sinister turn as Eddie her husband, her sister Marie and Bill her neighbor did not believe that was do. In her 20’s she did have a problem but not in the present and the insurance company that her life insurance policy would pay to her husband did due diligence and had them both tested but with this report questions were asked and this policy might not be paid. Who would benefit from her death: Marie and Frank, Eddie, Lennie or Jonas?
Mimi was determined to get the police to investigate the death and Edward the husband was adamant about his wife not being a drug user. Mimi left lots of messages, but her son was home in New York and her husband Walt away at work leaving her prey to someone who wanted her stopped. Bill Johnson called for help but the police did not think her attack was related to Connie’s death so who left her the threat on her doorstep?
Mimi was seriously hurt, and the suspect list was huge as before her attack she listed the following names: Marie and Frank were stealing from Connie
Lennie whose college tuition would no longer be paid
Jonas who might not be who he claims to be
Bill who wanted to know more about the painting
Eddie her husband who would be 10 million dollars richer if the claim were paid. Just who really wanted her gone!
Leads got her nowhere at first, phone calls not returned but when Marie decides to go to see Mimi what was behind her visit and why would Frank tell her to stay out of it.
Lennie is seeing AJ her partner who seems to side with the police’s assessment that it was a drug overdose but looking into the suspects and learning more about their pasts.
Rachel her childhood friend enlightened Jake and said that Connie was drug free but digging into several pats uncovered startling facts about several. Added in Jake was able to access several videos and a program someone attended and using his skills what he uncovers might reveal who the killer is or killers. Plus, Mimi contacts and FBI agent who is more interested in helping her and what she learns will shock readers, but will anyone get hurt before the truth is revealed?
Connie was smart, classy and beautiful and yet it seemed vulnerable in some ways and yet alienated from her sister . Truths, lies, deceptions and deceits are exposed before the shocking truth comes out . The author also tells us about Beckyball a cool game that anyone can play on a tennis court plus you will not believe the truth about the painting and how it came to be on Connie’s wall.
Throughout the novel we learn more about Mimi’s reporting skills and the stories she posts in her paper. But it might be time for her to cover crime or get an investigator’s license. Great instincts and I love her process: food, music, coffee and then getting to work.
When all the players are in one room and the truth is revealed you will not believe what a great web of deception author Deb Pines weaves as the facts are revealed and the shocking conclusion comes to light. But a serious twist and shock at the end will explain why Frank did what he did.
A family torn apart. A daughter facing her own identity crisis. A scam that cost a life and a deception that might linger in this town of Chautauqua for a long time. The history is interesting the Institution historic as author Deb Pines will hopefully bring a Mimi back soon but make sure Sylvia is there too. A story that could be ripped right out of the headlines: he who walks with integrity securely, but whoever takes the crooked paths will be found out!
Fran Lewis Just reviews