Thirty-One Bones

Arcade CrimeWise. May 2021. 312p. ISBN 9781951627669. $25.99. M
Effie Coulstoun moved to El Descaro, Spain, 20 years ago, and bought a pub named Se Busca, where a group of quirky expats hang out. She’s been working with some of them on a development scam, taking investment money from outsiders; then she dies unexpectedly. When her estranged daughter Daniella shows up, the “Ex-Patriots,” including Effie’s disbarred lawyer, treat her rudely. They accost Daniella and accuse her of knowing the location of their 1.3 million euros of scam money. Interspersed between Daniella’s meetings with individuals, there are police interviews with members of the Ex-Patriots, including a former pop singer, and twins who were once teen models, all partners in Effie’s scam. By the time the lawyer hires someone to break 31 bones in Daniella’s body, she decides they’re all incompetent. She’ll find that missing money, and, in a twist in the odd caper, she’ll return it to the rightful owners.
VERDICT Writing as Cry, Scottish author Gordon Brown (“Craig McIntyre” series) has created a darkly humorous adventure with a cast of exaggerated characters and a heroine who is smarter than all of them. Fans of capers with twisted plots might want to try this one.
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