Dangerous Women

Poisoned Pen. (Secret Lives Mysteries, Bk. 2). Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781728258331. pap. $16.99. M
In this sequel to Secret Lives, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Clarissa Baxter is the swing vote in a mining-rights case with enormous consequences for the country—and things are getting dicey. Her clerk is attacked and killed and his notes are taken, and another clerk, Brooke Chaplin, is in critical condition. She’s not only the niece of a homicide detective, she’s also one of Ethel Fiona Crestwater’s boarders. Ethel, a retired FBI agent, is protective of her residents, and she knows how to use her connections to get answers. Former boarders include the current directors of the FBI and the Secret Service, men who still cower at Ethel’s requests. It doesn’t take Ethel long to realize that a dead homeless man wasn’t really homeless, and he is connected to the clerk’s murder. She also knows that Justice Baxter is in danger and is determined to protect her and give the court time to weigh their decision. Any time there is a financial impact, such as on the mining industry, Ethel calls on Jesse, her cousin 28 times removed, who’s young enough to put computers and money together.
VERDICT Politics and climate issues are entangled in a complex case that still has moments of humor. Ethel’s adventures will appeal to fans of Richard Osman’s “Thursday Murder Club” series and Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age.
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