Cover Your Assets Review
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After a close call with a murder investigation (in Smiley’s debut, False Profits) left her unemployed and in shock, spunky California girl Tucker Sinclair has gotten back on her feet and has comfortably—though shakily—settled into self-employment as a marketing consultant. She’s working on convincing her client, a catalog company specializing in muumuus, that it’s time to update its product when an officer shows up to ask Tucker about her ex-fiancé, who’s been murdered.

Evan Brice was just a doped-up college kid writing bad poetry when he’d proposed to Tucker. Their engagement was short-lived—ending abruptly when Tucker found her best friend, Cissy, in a compromising position with Evan in the middle of his hallway. In the ten years since, Evan married Cissy, became a father, and set the poetry aside in favor of a job as a big-time Hollywood agent. But he hadn’t exactly cleaned up his act. The extra money had only bought him better drugs and more famous women, leading police to believe that his death was the result of either a drug deal gone bad or a jealous wife.

Even though she and Cissy haven’t spoken in years, Tucker is positive that her old friend didn’t kill Evan—and she’s determined to figure out who did. Tucker also agrees to help Cissy out by cleaning up the crime scene—an apartment that Evan had rented using a fake name so he could do his work without attracting attention. But on her first visit to the apartment, she uncovers a few pieces of information that someone’s quite determined to keep hidden—determined enough to kill for it.

Smiley definitely has a flair for creating quirky yet lovable characters that will forcefully grab readers by the collar and drag them into the story. Tucker is the perfect heroine—she’s stubborn and inquisitive and sarcastic and sensitive, all at the same time. And the rest of the cast just makes things even more outrageous: Tucker’s flighty actress mother, Pookie, Pookie’s hippie boyfriend, Tucker’s neurotic former assistant, and the straight-laced detective, Deegan, who’s trying really hard not to get caught in Tucker’s web of quirkiness.

Besides creating a mystery that will keep you guessing till the end, Smiley also crafts plenty of subplots, which she tells with just the right amount of detail—enough to make them interesting but not so much that they take away from the main story. While trying to solve Evan’s murder, Tucker’s also dealing with her mother’s strange new boyfriend while working with a client who sells muumuus and trying to find the perfect date for her ex-husband’s wedding. And while the story itself makes Cover Your Assets well worth reading, the extra subplots make Tucker Sinclair a real person with real (albeit sometimes rather strange) issues. And that makes her a character well worth following.

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