The novella features Patrick McGuire, a pre-World War II New York private detective, who gets hired by the curvy blonde bombshell Ruby Rose Rogan to investigate her husband’s murder. Carpenter has her tongue firmly planted in her cheek with the McGuire character (down to the trenchcoat and fedora) and Ruby Rose character (who I kept expecting to say, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way). From the third chapter, the larger question of Ruby Rose’s guilt—did she or didn’t she—crosses paths with the real question of the book, which is: will they or won’t they?
Carpenter has written best-selling romance novels, and it shows: her ease at writing the scenes between McGuire and Ruby Rose crackle with sexual tension. The mystery is well-plotted, too. The secondary characters are mostly expected tropes—the dumber-than-dirt gangsters, the wise old police captain, the nosy neighbor—but the plot keeps pushing forward so that the readers hardly notices the less-than-well-rounded characters. In short, this book is a lot of fun to read.