The FIRST book in the Rebecca Schwartz mystery series by Edgar Award Winner Julie Smith.
“Funny and witty, with a clever, outspoken heroine.” -Library Journal
“Rebecca’s lively first-person narration brands her a new detective to watch.” -Wilson Library Bulletin
A ROLLICKING TALE OF MURDER, ROMANCE, AND A BORDELLO…
“A lively romp of a novel … Smith shows an Agatha Christie-like capacity for making much ado about clues, concocting straw hypotheses, and surprising us, in the end … Smith’s crisp storytelling … and her likable, unpredictable heroine will make readers look forward to more.” -San Francisco Chronicle
Rebecca Schwartz, nice Jewish lawyer with a few too many fantasies, is happily playing the piano in a whorehouse when she suddenly finds herself assigned to make sure a near-naked state senator escapes a police raid. That dirty job done, a lovely evening turns even more delightful when she’s picked up by the cops and spends the next two hours at the Hall of Justice. Could this day get any worse? Of Course! Guess who arrives home to find a dead hooker on her living room floor!
Handsome Parker Phillips, Rebecca’s new beau and the most attractive man she’s met in ages, is arrested for the murder. (Worse, she suspects he might actually have done it.)
On the plus side, another very attractive man is following the case--reporter Rob Burns of the San Francisco Chronicle, a possible ally. And there are other possibilities.
Fans of Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Bond, and Elizabeth Peters will get a kick out of this one.
Basically, I am the kind of girl that mothers wish their sons would marry. But nobody’s son did, and anyway I couldn’t be bothered. I was too busy living up to my father's ambition for me. Or what I imagined it to be. He always said, “Be a doctor, Rebecca. There’s no money in law,” but anybody could see he was joking. When I was a little girl, he used to take me to watch him in court, and when I was a teenager, he’d discuss his cases with me. What did I know from doctors? I had a lawyer for a role model.
Now if you had led this kind of life and someone came along and said, “Listen, how would you like to play the piano in a whorehouse for just one night—you’ll be among friends; nothing can happen,” wouldn’t you do it? Especially if it were a feminist bordello? It wouldn’t have to be a case of getting back at your mom.
I should explain about Elena. She is a prostitute, and she’s also very close to being a madam, only she isn’t quite because this is a co-op bordello we’re talking about. It’s co-op because ostensibly everyone has an equal say in decision-making and the money is split among the members, but Elena is actually the brains and the driving force of the thing. She’d be a madam in the old-fashioned sense if she weren’t political.
I got to know her when she got busted and Jeannette von Phister asked me to take her case. Despite certain reservations I have about prostitution as a feminist issue (“horizontal hostility,” Jeannette calls it), I was already on the legal staff of HYENA, the “loose women’s organization” Jeannette had founded. As you no doubt know, HYENA is an acronym for “Head Your Ethics toward a New Age,” and its ultimate goal is to get prostitution legalized.
Sitting over crab salad and white wine in my gray flannel blazer and Cacharel blouse, I felt pretty naive as Elena spun tales about a world of crystal chandeliers and high-heeled sandals. A world where indulgence of personal vanity was not only not condemned but was actually applauded. I loved getting a peek at it.