“In this mystery, a middle-aged Florida transplant deals with new friends, a hot fisherman, and body parts on the beach. In Hanafee’s second book about inquisitive, wine-loving Leslie Elliott, the former Midwestern public relations executive now resides in Southwest Florida, where she attempts to start a new career as a mystery writer. Recently divorced, she also tries her hand at a new man: dimpled, sandy-haired Frank Johnson. Frank has a fishing boat and a spirited wife; supposedly he will soon part ways with one of them (spoiler alert: It’s not the vessel).
One night while grilling fillets of fish at her condo, Leslie tells Frank she snooped inside a beachfront house under construction and found buzzards and a headless dog carcass. Frank reckons the house’s renovation is slow because the owner, widower Peter Thompson, lives primarily in Canada and suggests the dead animal was probably a coyote (but where’s the head?). The next day, Frank goes AWOL, and local children find a body in a boat on the beach. But when the sheriff arrives, the corpse is gone. Later, Leslie’s friend Deb Rankins and her art class find body parts on the shore, and the two women call the sheriff. But the sheriff—who told Leslie to mind her own business earlier when she called about the headless canine—again seems nonplussed. Leslie wonders: “Was there a killing spree in paradise that no one was talking about except for my friends and me?”
Although thinking about Frank and writing her novel take up much of her days, she saves some time for dinners with Peter, who arrives to check on his house. It’s not clear in Hanafee’s story why two men are vying for Leslie’s attention, especially eye-candy Frank (“The man kind of takes your breath away”). And the crime novel fails to tie up loose ends, perhaps signaling a third installment starring the intrepid Leslie, who loves to look for clues and fears that she is “destined to be alone like the spinster ghost in the Tarpon Bar.”
That said, juicy gossip about the community’s residents and amusing banter between Leslie and her mother—who confirms “There IS sex after 70”—make this enjoyable chick-mystery’s pages turn fast.”