Jane Stanton Hitchcock's newest novel Mortal Friends is a seductive mystery set in Georgetown, where the real Washington DC power lies.
When the Beltway Basher's latest victim is found in a nearby park, best friends society matron Violet and antique shop owner Reven get involved in the crime. Violet is obsessed with true life crime stories, and Reven becomes entangled when a police detective asks her for help in solving the case.
Hitchcock expertly draws the reader into this story and the world of political high society in Washington DC. She gives enough clues for readers to think themselves very clever when they figure out a few of mysteries, then throws in some twists that will send the reader reeling with surprise.
Her descriptions of characters place them firmly in the mind of the reader.
"Grant was Mr. Straight Arrow. No, actually he was more like a totem pole: tall, wooden, and joyless."You get Grant right away from that. She describes an obscenely wealthy woman as wearing jewelry
"clearly designed to illuminate her bank account as much as her face".
Grant's statement about his overbearing mother
"Mother can't admit she's wrong, therefore she never is"explains a lot about Grant's relationship with her. But my favorite line is Reven's about her boarding school reunion
"Nobody looks great after forty. We just look better or worse than other people our age".That gives one pause to think.
The story moves along at a brisk pace, and Hitchcock spikes her novel with references to real events, like the Chandra Levy murder and the Washington DC sniper attacks, that add to its authenticity. Hitchcock clearly knows Washington DC society, and gives the reader the inside scoop on the intrigue of it.
Those who like mysteries that challenge the reader to pay close attention in an attempt to figure it out will appreciate this clever, seductive society story.
Rating 4 of 5 stars