cover image Mother-Daughter Murder Night

Mother-Daughter Murder Night

Nina Simon. Morrow, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-331504-4

Three women bond while investigating a homicide in Simon’s spirited debut. Lana Rubicon and her 17-year-old daughter, Beth, become estranged when Beth gets pregnant and relocates five hours north of Los Angeles to raise her baby alone. Fifteen years later, Lana is a high-powered L.A. real estate developer, and Beth is a nurse who shares a humble cottage in Elkhorn Slough with her now-teenage daughter, Jack. Though Lana has always refused to visit Beth and Jack’s “shack about to fall into a mud pit,” she moves in while undergoing treatment for cancer. Four months of cohabitation do nothing to curb her feelings of uselessness and alienation from her daughter and granddaughter, however. Then, a kayak tour led by Jack comes across naturalist Ricardo Cruz’s floating corpse. Racist local police target Jack—who’s half Filipino on her father’s side—based on the flimsy testimony of one of her clients, and Lana resolves to exonerate her granddaughter and reconnect with Beth in the process. Simon stocks her layered plot with plausibly motivated suspects and convincing red herrings, but it’s her indomitable female characters and their nuanced relationships that give this mystery its spark. Readers will be delighted. Agent: Stefanie Lieberman, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Sept.)