2023 EDGAR AWARD NOMINEE, SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD * APPLE BOOK OF THE MONTH SELECTION
"A high energy foray into cryptocurrency and government corruption."—First Clue
"This light and lively series launch introduces 75-year-old Ethel Fiona Crestwater...an elderly Nancy Drew: sure of herself and her convictions, and ready to bend a few rules to achieve her goal of seeing justice done." —Publishers Weekly
For fans of unexpected-yet-badass female sleuths, meet former FBI agent-turned-boardinghouse landlady Ethel Fiona Crestwater. Her age affords her precious invisibility. She can outthink and outshoot most men—and women—half her age.
When someone murders one of her boarders, Ethel springs into action—much to the surprise of her double-first-cousin-twice-removed, Jesse, who has recently come to stay with her while he attends university. As he watches her photograph the crime scene, conceal evidence, and speed-dial the Secret Service Director, Jesse realizes that there's much more to Ethel than appearances suggest.
When Jesse is assaulted and the gym bag full of cash Ethel had hidden is stolen from the basement, the pair decides it's time to launch their own unofficial investigation. With no one to trust but each other, this unlikely duo learns that the only thing truly worth risking your life for is family.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A senior sleuth joins forces with a young upstart in this smart, snappy murder mystery. College student Jesse Cooper is alarmed when one of his rooming-house neighbors is murdered—and even more shocked when his elderly landlady immediately instructs him on how to handle the police. Ethel Fiona Crestwater, he soon learns, is a retired FBI agent, and all of the boarders (except Jesse) are fellow government operatives. Mark de Castrique creates a gem of a heroine in cool, creaky Ethel, playing on all the ways the world underestimates a gray-haired old woman. We loved watching his supercompetent heroine running circles around the police with her young tenant in tow. Mixing the best of high-stakes political spy stories with an unforgettable main character, Secret Lives is funny and exciting.
This light and lively series launch from de Castrique (the Blackman Agency investigations) introduces 75-year-old Ethel Fiona Crestwater, a retired FBI agent who remains a legend among her former colleagues for her "myriad connections in both the Secret Service and the FBI, and a maestro's skill to play those connections to her advantage." Her comfortable Arlington, Va., home is affectionately referred to as "Ethel's dormitory" by the government agents who have rented rooms from her over the years. When one roomer, Secret Service agent Jonathan Finch, is shot in front of her house, the feisty landlady steps into the role of action hero to find Finch's killer and discover the reasons for his death. She's assisted by Jesse Cooper, her double first cousin twice removed, who's also staying with her while attending the American University in Washington, D.C., as well as former boarders Cory Bradshaw, head of the Secret Service, and Arlington police detective Frank Mancini. Petite but plucky Ethel is an elderly Nancy Drew: sure of herself and her convictions, and ready to bend a few rules to achieve her goal of seeing justice done. She's off to a fine start.