In Patricia Smiley’s previous novel, False Profits, readers first met Tucker Sinclair as her life and career were both turned upside down thanks to some shady business deals and foul murder. She neatly solved that mystery, and we now see her in Cover Your Assets as the owner of her own fledgling management consultant business. With one client and a lot of free time on her hands, Tucker’s active imagination and curiosity lead her to trying to solve the recent murder of her old college boyfriend.
The poetic Evan Brice she once loved had, over the years, evolved into a successful Hollywood agent with a string of lovers and an ongoing affair with drugs. His enemies range from his long-suffering wife (none other than Tucker’s backstabbing ex-best friend) to a high-profile actress. In trying to sort out his entangled dealings, Tucker herself becomes a target. With the police eyeing Tucker as a suspect and the media hounding her as “the other woman,” Tucker has no recourse but to save herself and solve the case before anyone else gets killed.
The first book captivated readers, and Smiley does a good job of ensuring they fall in love with her second book as well. True-to-life L.A glamour with all its attendant Hollywood beauty, baseness and business dealings holds an integral key to the story. However, the really fascinating part is watching Tucker stumble here and there, picking up random clues and trying to piece them together while braving the police, hostile bikers, excitable Spanish women, influential Hollywood personas, a calculating ex-friend, her mother’s hippie boyfriend and an obese puppy.
The resulting wacky comical suspense is just too good to pass. L.A. ,with its sprawling suburbs and unruly traffic, comes to life through Smiley’s pithy prose, as do the engaging side characters. The only sour notes are the lack of a romance interest in Tucker’s life and her deathly dogged determination to prove her backstabbing ex-best friend is innocent of her husband’s murder, something that just doesn’t make sense until the end. But even then the reason doesn’t quite gel. Still, with sex, scandal and sleaze to spice things up, this is one snazzy murder mystery that will keep readers engrossed from beginning to end.