Hetty Carson was once one of the upperly mobile of the Los Angeles jet-set. Then her husband walked off with millions of embezzled funds and all of Hetty's credibility. What began as a search for the ex has turned into a new career: detective.
The story opens with Hetty being interrogated by the police:
"Here I sit at a police station being accused of murder!
Will wonders never cease? How could I have decapitated Gerry Delaney when he was a big, barrel-chested man and I'm a slim woman, barely registering five-feet six? That's something the cop interrogating me can't or won't answer. Besides, why would I kill Gerry? I was trying to get him to buy tequila mixers for his dive bar. He hadn't made up his mind yet and killing him wasn't going to help.
I'm Hetty Carson, private investigator. Business was slow, so I started selling tequila mixers on the side in downtown L.A. Who knew it could lead to murder? I mean, Gerry's murder was a tragedy, for sure, but I figured it didn't have anything to do with me. Until someone figured it did, and now I have to investigate why if I want to stay alive."
"How does a slim woman decapitate a large, barrel-chested man? In The Trouble with Murder, Hetty Carson is being accused of killing Gerry Delaney. She didn't do it. But the cops think that she did.
Hetty is a part-time private investigator when she's not working as an account manager. This professional role is about to serve her well as she tries to juggle a sales route while assembling evidence to support her innocence.
Vanessa A. Ryan takes the time to not only explore the crime and its evolution, but Hetty's personality as she interacts with her environment: "For the first time in a while, I felt peaceful and safe. Although I wished I could live on a street like this, I didn't feel envy or sorry for myself. Maybe it was because no one knew me here, or because I realized I didn't gain anything from wallowing in self-pity. I just enjoyed the moment."
As she faces shooters, accidents, and choices she neither thought of nor wanted, Hetty finds herself accused of interfering with an investigation even as she draws closer to a strange truth. The effort of simply living her life without getting shot at, mugged, or involved in a murder seems to be linked to solving a crime she had nothing to do with.
As she considers Officer Ed Malone's dubious connections and a scheme designed to make her believe that the bad guy is the good one, Hetty is challenged both by her desire to run away and the consequences of her choices.
Ryan's story takes many unexpected turns as Hetty follows the clues into a trap. As she purposely places herself in danger, readers receive a surprise outcome that culminates in a terrible shock that tests her ability to stay focused in the midst of a traumatic encounter.
Forced to save her own life through her investigations, Hetty finds herself facing several conundrums that test her skills and her problem-solving abilities.
If this first book in a Hetty Carson series is any indication, murder mystery and detective fiction readers are in for an ongoing treat. Hetty is both proactive and reactive as she considers who she will trust with her life and who is telling the truth.
Readers will find The Trouble with Murder a compelling exercise in reason and reaction which considers how a series of increasingly close brushes with death give Hetty the strength to survive." D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, April 2022