Phoenix International, Feb 1 2014, $3.99 (E-book)
In 1947 following her misadventures in London where her high school crush and her client died (see Death By Misadventure), Discreet Inquiries private investigator Alexis Smith returns to Sacramento. Her welcome home is her secretary Sandy on her desk while office boy Roger pursues a mouse, and an eviction notice. Once the rodent is herded elsewhere, deceased Frank Faraday’s sister Monica Beck arrives. She has three issues that make her confront Lexie over being the one her brother wanted to marry instead of his ex-wife Kate; seeing the couple die in England; and shipping back their ashes and his paintings to his family. Monica’s father hires Lexie to trail his second wife to ascertain why she is behaving oddly.
As she resolves the Faraday affair, M15 orders Scotland Yard to investigate whether visiting St. Edmunds College Professor Dr. Gore is a Communist. DCI Martin informs DI Harry Hawkins to get Alexis in for questioning as she knows the teacher. Because she had gotten her boyfriend Harry in trouble with Martin, reluctantly Lexie crosses the pond. Masquerading as a student taking Gore’s class, a stunned Lexie knows the teacher is not the man who taught her Forensics Science at Sacramento J.C.
The second Alexis Smith Discreet Inquiries contains two excellent extremely diverse historical mysteries. The Faraday caper is a Sacramento cozy that showcases Lexie’s ability to uncover the truth and resolve the dilemma without destroying a family grieving the death of their favorite member. The second case involves a kidnapping with potential global effect; but what makes it a tremendous stand alone is the profound look at people’s “better dead than red” reaction to Communism one year after Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech declared the Cold War.