Fina Ludlow is back. It’s been several months since she had to (major spoiler alert on the last book!!) accuse her own brother in Loyalty, and she has reached a wary sort of peace with her parents. Fina is a private investigator who works for the family firm of ambulance-chasing lawyers who’ve done very well for themselves, but she’s as hard-boiled and hard-working as they come.
Renata Sanchez is a single mother by choice, conceiving and bearing two children with the help of an anonymous sperm donor. Her oldest child is now mostly grown, and Renata has decided that in spite of a confidentiality statement that she signed years earlier, and in spite of her daughter Rosie’s reluctance, she needs to find out who that donor actually was. Carl Ludlow, Fina’s father, agrees–he thinks that the “next big thing” will be lawsuits about cryobanks and sperm donors, and he wants in on it. Fina does some fairly typical detective work and pretty quickly identifies who it was–Hank Reardon, one of Boston’s leading businessmen, a rich man heavily involved in several charities. Soon after he’s exposed, his dead body is discovered in his office’s parking garage.
Fina feels she has no choice but to help solve this mess, especially when Hank’s son hires her. Between Renata and a couple of others, there are 5 of Hank’s cyro-kids running around. Other suspects include both Hank’s first wife and his new trophy wife, whose recently had a daughter who mysteriously seems to never be around, as well as the head of the cryobank and Hank’s business partner. Fina keeps moving, dealing with someone threatening her niece, recovering from several personal attacks that leave her wounded, inexorably gathering the small pieces of evidence that add up to something big.
I am really enjoying this series. Fina is a nuanced character–we see her eat and sleep, we feel the tension with her family, she may sometimes make us cringe but real people do that. Author Ingrid Thoft pays attention to detail, and as a result her stories, though fast-paced, are slow enough that each scene and person is easy to picture. She uses things like clothing descriptions, cooking choices or home decor to give us deeper glimpses of her characters and their lives. Identity is a well-written and very enjoyable read that transcends its genre to appeal to a wide audience.