Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery (A Vera Kelly Story)

Written by Rosalie Knecht
Review by Fiona Alison

This second in the Vera Kelly series finds the ex-CIA agent without a partner or a job, so on a whim she opens a small detective agency. After a few suspicious-husband clients, she agrees to help a couple looking for their great-nephew, the son of very well-to-do Dominican parents who have been disinherited by the regime.

In her search for the missing Félix, she takes a position at a Catholic Reform School, where she discovers that although he was definitely there, he is now missing again. A note on Félix’s medical file also twigs her that the people claiming to be his great-uncle and aunt are very likely agents of Balaguer, the Dominican president, and that they are after Félix as leverage to find his parents. Following Félix’s probable bus route away from the Reform School, she tracks him down working in a restaurant, but she doesn’t approach him. Instead, she heads to Santo Domingo for more information, learns of the parents’ escape to the US and the name of a man who can find them.

This novel is heavily steeped in ’60s atmosphere, and Knecht does an excellent job of evoking the climate of the times and shaping her novel around lethal Cold War politics—mentions of Haight-Ashbury, liberal hippie sex, and Vietnam napalm set the tone. The LGBT lived covertly, The Fugitive played on TV, and everyone smoked on planes. Knecht writes with dry wit and honesty. This is a small book, but extensive in its ability to tell a story with a PI who is like no one you’ve never met! Intelligent, saucy, and heroic Vera is also vulnerable at heart, and her reasons for doggedly trying to reunite parents and child lie in her own need for hearth and home―and love. I’m eagerly awaiting Vera Kelly’s next adventure. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the 1960s.