Excellent storytelling and a brilliant character
The Girl on the Edge of Summer is the ninth book in the Micky Knight series. I have to say up front that I love Micky Knight. I am well aware that she is a fictional character and I don't think she's real (not like the woman I used to work with who knitted baby clothes and sent them whenever a baby was born on Coronation Street). I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with her either - way too stressful. But I would love to be part of her inner circle so I get to hear her stories over a beer. The stories are excellent - there will be no spoilers here by the way. Sitting down with Micky to talk about life would be a real treat. She is a three dimensional, well written, warm but flawed character.
If you haven't read any of the Micky books, do yourself a favour and start with book one - Death by the Riverside. The books build on each other and the core group of characters develop and grow through the various cases. The little support group of cop Joanne, ADA Danielle, nurse Elly, politician Alex, doctor Cordelia all dip in and out of the narrative along with the brilliant cousin Torbin and his lover computer geek Andy. You can pick up the story in book nine - but when you do, you will want to get the back story so you may as well accept the inevitable and start with book one. That way you will participate in the full journey.
Written by J M Redmann, the series pulls no punches in showing a woman who struggles daily with her demons. Micky is far from perfect but she tries every day to do the best she can. In this story, Micky takes on a case that she doesn't really want to because she feels that ethically she is the best PI to help a grieving mother. The woman's teenage daughter has killed herself after being blackmailed by a young man who has compromising pictures of her. Micky knows that the case will bring heartbreak but if she doesn't take it another PI will and may not be so sensitive to the feelings of the family. This shows her moral code very well.
The other case is a wealthy man trying to find out what happened to his ancestor who was murdered in New Orleans. The case was never solved. Micky knows that solving a murder over 100 years old won't be easy - or maybe even possible - but the client has cash and the case means spending time in a warm library or county archive rather than sitting in a freezing car on surveillance. This case helps the PI with her endless bills and mortgage payments but in the beginning doesn't touch her soul.
The genius is to make the two stories unravel simultaneously and mirror the conflict within Micky about how she feels on many aspects of her life. She eats a lot of pizza and thinks it is somehow better to drink quality scotch rather than the cheap stuff when really she shouldn't be drinking so much of either of them...
Over the arc of the series, Micky grows exponentially and sorts out some of her childhood baggage and it is really worth starting at the beginning. But if you're not keen to read nine books (and you should be!) then this is a rewarding place to start. Micky will touch your heart but you might be put off pizza while craving a turkey sandwich or maybe a po-boy. This is one of only a few series where I reread all the books when a new one comes out... FIVE STARS and recommended if you like crime fiction with a heart - you may fall for Micky too.
Micky Knight reluctantly takes on two cases, one for money, one for pity. The first is a trawl though archives to solve a century old murder, for an arrogant grandson who thinks riches should absolve his family of any sins. The other, to answer a mother’s anguish as she tries to understand her daughter’s suicide. Micky sees no happy ending to either case; the dusty pages of history aren’t going to give up their secrets after holding them for so long. And even if she finds answers for the mother’s questions, nothing will bring her daughter back. But as Micky discovers, the past is never past and a young girl can lead a complicated, even dangerous, life. The secrets, both past and present, are meant to remain hidden—only the first murder is hard. The rest come easy.