Wilson Chaney, a Harvard professor, comes to Carlotta Carlyle for help finding a blackmailer. Turns out that he had an affair with a student, who has since died in a fire. He wants Carlotta to retrieve some letters that he wrote to her and protect his marriage and his reputation. But as Carlotta starts tracking the victim, the last few weeks of the girl's life, and the probable blackmailer, she discovers there is much more at stake than one Harvard professor's reputation. Wilson Chaney is working on a new drug for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, one that shows the promise of help for millions of kids-and for lots of profits to whoever gets it to market first.
Barnes' character Carlotta Carlyle is one of my favorite female PIs. Carlotta-private investigator, sometime cabby, and life-long Boston resident, shows a resiliency and independence that is common in the best written female lead characters. With a new love interest in FBI agent Leon, her quirky roommate Roz, and her little "sister" Paolina, Carlotta has her hands full even without a troublesome client and someone trying to kill her. Add former love interest and mob boss Sam Gianelli, and there is enough personal and professional intrigue going on to keep the reader interested for all 320 pages. While the mystery itself is not as intricate as some (I did figure it out by about half-way thorough the book), it is an enjoyable popcorn book.