A Penny for Her Heart by Alretha Thomas – a Review
Vanessa Johnson Rossi’s dream is to work in the White House. Not as the leader of the free world, but as chief of staff, overseeing the executive office of the president. As an assistant working at Buderwood Hills City Hall, she finds herself getting closer to realizing her dream when a plum position becomes available that would put her a step closer working directly for the mayor who has personal connections to the White House. But Vanessa’s hopes are dashed when her best friend, Penelope Newhouse, lands the coveted job. However, when Vanessa discovers Penelope murdered less than a hundred feet from the office she dreamed of occupying, her disappointment turns into devastation. Detective Rachel Storme and her team are put on the case and she soon finds herself delving into the underbelly of politics in search of the killer. The clues point to a litany of suspects, including the mayor. As usual, Detective Storme is determined to solve this case—a case so chock-full of dark and sinister twists and turns, it has her questioning her own competence.
A Penny for Her Heart begins with Vanessa heading into work at the mayor’s office on what should have been her day off, but duty calls. She arrives and heads to her best friend’s office. She and Penelope (Penny) met in college and have been best friends ever since. Once Vanessa enters Penny’s office, she notices almost immediately that things seem a bit off. Penny is nowhere around, which leads Vanessa to check the bathroom. Little did she know that once she set foot in that bathroom, her world would be changed forever. She sees blood everywhere and someone in a stall, but is so distraught all she can do is run out screaming for the security guard on duty to summon the police.
Rachel Storme is attending a cookout at Herb’s, who also happens to be her long-time partner at the police department. When Herb gets the call that there’s been a murder at the mayor’s office, he and Rachel, along with co-workers Vincent and Carlos, who were also attending the get together, head out to the scene of the murder. It doesn’t take Rachel long for that methodical mind of hers to start processing the scene and the people there. She interviews Vanessa, who is understandably upset and ready to just go home. Once finished, Vanessa heads out with the promise to call Rachel if anything of use comes to mind.
As the investigation progresses, Vanessa soon realizes that Penny had a whole other side that she never knew about. Lies are uncovered, hearts are broken and Vanessa finds herself questioning everything she thought she ever knew about her friendship with Penny. While Rachel and her team dig up clues and try to tie together a motive, she knows that the longer it takes them, the chances of finding the killer get smaller. Add to that the family issues Rachel has with her scattered and irresponsible aunt, along with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease……….some days she just can’t catch a break. The one thing that she excels doing? Pulling together the pieces of evidence and listening to her gut.
A Penny for Her Heart is another wonderfully written book by Alretha Thomas. As I’ve said before, all of the characters in Mrs. Thomas’s books are relatable, as well as believable. While reading this particular one, more than any of the others, I found myself wrong so many times when I thought I’d figured out who the killer was. The twists and turns kept me turning the pages, but Rachel Storme keeps me coming back to this series. Her determination and drive, along with a big ol’ heart, is very endearing. I’m starting to feel repetitive in my reviews of this series, but Rachel is truly one of the most believable and realistic characters I’ve read in a long time. Anyone would feel lucky to have such a person in their lives. If you’re a mystery fan, this one will not disappoint. And, as always, I look forward to the next installment. Well done, Alretha Thomas! Very, very well done!
Reviewed by Vickie
Copy supplied for review