This review is published on Reedsy/Discovery.
The book begins with a life-changing event for Laila Harrow, a resident of Laguna Shores with a passion for the art world. It is a fictional mystery with many moving parts as the characters in her sphere all seem to have intersecting secrets.
Laila belongs to a research club where members individually delve into a topic of their choosing. Billie, a close friend of Laila’s, was helping the group’s members with their research, and the story opens with Billie’s murder. From that point, the book gets more interesting as you follow Laila in her quest to solve the murder while working through marital issues, never suspecting the connection later revealed.
The author’s talent for descriptive writing enabled me to visualize the scenes from Laila’s perspective with an artist’s eye. For example:
“The tall palms that flanked the portico were mirrored in the graceful double row across the street. They curtained the Laguna Shores lane from the busy arterial and made her think of dancers.”
“The wavering light created pastel tones. A lilac edge gilded one cloud, a smoky pink filtered through another. Over and under the clouds floated a creamy yellow, thickening here, diluting over there.”
In the beginning, I liked Laila. She was a good mom, and her missteps humanized her. She pursued a professional passion while combating the typical struggles of raising a teenager and trying to understand her husband’s erratic moods.
The three-star rating reflects my opinion that parts of the story drag on too long, particularly the detail of the art collection world. A section of the book also concentrates on Laila’s zeal to learn surfing, which I think detracts from the main story and is long-winded.
I found the conclusion of this book disturbing, with many diabolical characters. I wanted someone to root for, but the protagonist’s behavior became bizarre. I was looking for a hero that inspires and saves the day.