A Broken Life
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Oct 24 2014, $14.99
In Taylor, Rhode Island private investigator Paula Michael heads to her office when she realizes a nearby homeless woman is her high school classmate Martha Hendricks. Paula persuades a reluctant Martha to have coffee and pastry, and to tell her what happened to her. Downtrodden Martha explains she worked for five years as an office manager at a medical practice when her boss Dr. Treverson learned from a routine background check she spent three days in jail for drug use. Martha insists she never spent one day behind bars, but someone gave her identity as theirs to the police. No one believes her innocence and soon Martha found her life broken.
Paula takes Martha to meet lawyer Geri Smithfield who after hearing the story agrees to take on a pro bono case. The sleuth also takes Martha into her home while she investigates. The PI obtains info from Dr. Treverson, but upon leaving she spots an amateur in a car obviously tailing her. Not long after she began her inquiry, someone kills Treverson, threatens Paula and an attempt to silence her fails; however an assault on Martha leaves her unconscious.
While Tina Shaw takes a breather after being Buried Under Clutter, the second Paula Mitchell, P.I. case (see Perfect Victim) is a timely, tense and twisting cozy. The impact of the identity theft feels incredibly genuine due to key factors: Treverson waited too long to explain why he really fired her (instead of his downsizing excuse); and by the time she knows the truth impoverished Martha had driven away all her friends (her parents were dead) and lacked transportation to get legal aid in Providence.