What's my idea of a perfect summer afternoon? A tall glass of ice tea, sunshine with a little breeze, and a fun summer read that's pure escapism. Helping me out this year was HarperCollins, who recently sent me four of their newest summer releases. Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, was the first one I delved into, and it immediately became a page turner. I couldn't put it down!Admittedly, I live a somewhat mundane life, at least compared to the whirlwind of benefit dinners, gallery openings, and theater shows all held at the most exclusive of settings that lead protagonists Reven and Violet inhabit, and that Hitchcock so vividly conjures up. It was a lot of fun to enter their high society world of Washington D.C., the back drop for this compelling crime story that will rock the social scene, test friendships, and uncover secrets hidden for years.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Reven and Violet are two DC socialites, whose friendship goes back to their days at an exclusive prep school. Violet has risen in the world to become the wife of a prominent banker, to whom outwardly she has a happy marriage. While Reven's life has had more ups and downs. Currently a struggling antiques dealer; now in Violet's social shadow, where she was once the leader.
Both they and their chic Georgetown community are shocked when the latest "Beltway Basher" murder takes place on their turf. Detective Gunner comes by her shop asking pointed questions, and Reven finds herself drawn into the investigation. Helping him by going about and where he can't, which in high society, seems to be leading to a murder who's a member of the city's elite.
Meanwhile, the flashy bombshell philanthropist Cynthia Rinehart has exploded onto the scene dropping large donation checks all over town, garnering big publicity but is she after something else too? There is murder, romance, adultery, scandal, political maneuvering, back stabbing, blackmail, long held secrets, and gossiping personal shopper who know everyone's dirt in this well written and paced story.
While the Beltway Basher commits horrific crimes, they are brought into the story in a tasteful way and are not described too graphically. Ostensibly a murder mystery, it's actually secondary to the story of the women, their relationship with each other, and how people aren't always all or what they seem to be. Several unexpected plot turns and new characters means that you will be absorbed in it, throughout the entire book. This is definitely a summer read at it's best, entertaining indeed!
As you can tell, I really enjoyed the book, but don't just take my word for it! To read the first 50 or so pages of Mortal Friends, click here. I am looking forward to reading the rest of Hitchcock's titles, if this book is any indicator of her abilities, they should all be great reads.
Disclaimer: Thank you to HarperCollins for providing the reviewers copy.