Created by Alex Kenna
Two years ago, she was a happily married, a dedicated artist and a hot-shot detective for the LAPD, married to fellow detective John Bennett. Then her police car, part of a freeway barricade, was rammed into by a fleeing suspect, pinning Kate up against a wall. The resulting injuries fucked up her back, and the resulting opioid addiction didn’t help.
Nor did a car accident of her own making that occurred when Kate, zonked out on painkillers, crashed and nearly killed her then-five-year-old daughter, Amelia.
And so it’s two years later and, big surprise, she’s no longer a cop. She’s a thirty-something recovering junkie struggling with both addiction and ADHD, a divorcee who’s lost custody of her daughter, living alone and trying to keep busy—and crossword puzzles, learning to play the ukulele and guilt just aren’t cutting it. Or paying the bills.
She’s set herself up as a private investigator, because detective work is all she knows. “I’m competent despite my shortcomings,” she insists, mostly to herself, claiming “I’m a better-than-average PI.”
Maybe, but she can’t be too fussy about who her clients are.
Like Milt Starling, whose celebrated artist daughter Margot was found hanging from a chain in the bedroom of her downtown loft. Her death was dismissed by the LAPD as a suicide, but Starling isn’t buying it, and wants Kate to investigate.
The case is far more complex than Kate’s usual fare, and certainly more than she bargained for. Spun out on a series of overlapping flashbacks that fill in the backgrounds of not just Kate, but her client and his daughter, she soon discovers that the temperamental Margot had more than a few people who weren’t exactly fond of her, including a sleazy art dealer who seems to specialize in selling forged paintings, several dumped ex-lovers and possibly a few members of the Russian mob.
It’s an audacious debut, and the just-the-facts first-person narration from the all-too-human Kate–a pitch-perfect, blow-by-blow account of someone struggling to rebuild their life–is unexpectedly engaging.
It’ll be interesting to see where the author goes with Kate next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Kenna is a prosecutor, writer and an avid Sunday painter. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer. Before law school, she studied painting and art history at Penn.
STRAIGHT FROM THE AUTHOR’S MOUTH
- “Maybe if I find a specific enough Amazon category, my book can be ranked? “Number one in female-driven art thrillers featuring an amputated pinkie?” Or “Number one in female detectives in their mid-thirties with flaming ADHD, mousy brown hair, a seven-year-old, and a taste for iced Irish coffee”
— Alex McKenna (September 2023, X/Twitter)
- “A righteous, painful debut. More, please, but lighter on the flashbacks.”
— Kirkus Reviews
- “Sara Paretsky fans will be pleased.”
— Publishers Weekly
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- August 20, 2023
The Bottom Line: Divorced, recovering addict and ex-LAPD single mom is really up the junction, in her Shamus-nominated debut What Meets the Eye.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.