"Duplicity" (G.P. Putnam's Sons), by Ingrid Thoft
The private detective novel continues to explore contemporary hot-button issues, as Ingrid Thoft illustrates in her latest exciting novel about Boston investigator Fina Ludlow.
In "Duplicity," Thoft tackles how easily the unscrupulous can use faith to manipulate the vulnerable, while she also shows respect for religion and those who find comfort in their faith.
As the in-house private investigator for one of the country's top personal injury law firms run by her father and brothers, Fina knows the value of discretion when dealing with the wealthy. Still, she's a bit taken aback when her father, Carl, asks her to help his old flame, Ceci Renard, who is worried about her daughter, Chloe.
In the past year, Chloe has become so involved with the evangelical Covenant Rising Church that she is willing to sign over a large part of her inheritance. Fina is as suspicious as Ceci when she meets the pastor, Greg Gatchell and his wife, Gabby, who use contributions to the church to finance their luxurious lifestyle.
While dealing with her investigation, Fina also focuses on the return of her brother, Rand, who sexually abused his teenage daughter, Haley. Fina focuses on Haley's needs, but her parents are more concerned about keeping this family scandal quiet. The chasm between Fina and her mother, Elaine, widens further as Elaine refuses to believe that her favorite son is a pedophile.
Thoft gracefully delivers an action-packed plot loaded with realistic dialogue and believable characters in "Duplicity." While it's clear the Gatchells are untrustworthy, Thoft still weaves in several well-devised twists. A hallmark of this series is Thoft illustrating the complexity of family relationships. Fina loves her family, and at heart, they are close. But Fina also is aware that she often is considered the outsider, being the only surviving daughter and non-lawyer. Fina's insistence on her independence while keeping close contact with her family adds to her complicated personality.
"Duplicity" again shows that in the right hands, such as Thoft's, the private detective novel has no limits.