One Dangerous Lady by Jane Stanton Hitchcock is a fun and suspenseful summer read featuring likable New York socialite Jo Slater, the star of Hitchcock’s previous novel, Social Crimes. This time Jo is back into the good graces of New York society after a disastrous episode that kept her out of the haute limelight. Jo’s good friends Betty and Gil Waterman have invited her to Barbados for their daughter’s upcoming wedding. Jo gladly accepts the opportunity to relax on the beach. She’s also looking forward to seeing her old friend, art connoisseur Russell Cole, who has offered to have the rehearsal dinner aboard his gorgeous yacht, The Lady C.
Jo is having a wonderful time meeting old friends and new ones, including the infamous English Lord Max Vermillion, who has been married more times than King Henry VIII. Despite denying it to her friends, Jo enjoys flirting with the regal Earl and secretly hopes for a date. But after the rehearsal dinner, things go terribly wrong for the social elite. Russell Cole goes missing, and his young trophy wife, Carla, cannot find him. Worried about her husband’s whereabouts, Carla fears the worst. Her friends and acquaintances try to assure Carla that Russell is probably fine, even though her fears are becoming more of a reality as each day passes without him returning. Jo and friends return to New York after the wedding with Russell still missing and Carla moving to New York. Suspicions arise about the true reasons for Russell disappearance, bringing the bewitching Carla into the gossip mongers of high society and into Jo’s world - which Jo, is none to happy to accept with noblesse oblige.
One Dangerous Lady is filled with suspense until the last page. Hitchcock, who was born into New York society, definitely knows in the ins and outs of the game. Her witty dialogue and clever characterization make One Dangerous Lady a fantastic book. The novel even has characters who readers may be familiar with in real life. Though names have been changed, their descriptions are too coincidental, which makes the novel truly fun.
Yet since Hitchcock grew up among New York aristocracy and is a graduate of The Brearley School for girls, my only complaint is some grammar. One thing that must change in the way people talk is the referral of “me” in a sentence before another subject. For example: “And of course, everyone was curious about me and Max.” I have been surprised of late to hear characters speak this way in movies and on television. I was shocked to read this in a novel from supposedly educated characters. It did not occur just once, but several times. English instructors teach us that it is grammatically correct and always good etiquette to put another person before yourself. The sentence in fact should have read: “And of course, everyone was curious about Max and me.”
This is the only fault I find with the novel. Otherwise, it is terrific mystery. I can’t wait for another novel featuring Jo Slater, who has become one of my favorite mystery heroines.