Since D.B. Cooper jumped from a plane disappearing with his loot, that scenario has been fodder for many writers' imaginations. Elmore Leonard used the storyline in his televised series Justified. Neri uses the same premise in a startlingly entertaining mystery set in fictional Tecos, New Mexico on a stretch of highway known as Route 66.
Tracy's dad, aging Hollywood hunk, Alec Grainger used to take his daughter on road trips to Tecos when she was little to cover visits he made to a young lady, Lucy, who ran a luncheonette, The Lunch Pail Café. As a girl, Lucy had a collection of these handcrafted lunch pails.
The visits stopped long ago when Lucy ended up in the big-house, accused of shooting her boyfriend. So when Daddy calls and asks her to meet him and his best friend, Philly, a wanna-be-gangster-type from the old days, Tracy and her husband Drew drive from California to New Mexico, only they do it Tracy-style, stopping at every kitschy little piece of Americana along the way, just like in days gone by.
From the Biker Bunny Bin, a storage unit where Grainger had left all of Lucy's famous lunch pails, to the Kontiki Pizza and Chinese Restaurant that only served waffles, Neri takes us on a road trip from hell. When Woody, Lucy's son and Grainger's protégé turns up dead, the family is scrutinized for their possible part in his murder and leaves Tracy on the lam from the FBI. Several mysteries unravel on this journey and all will come to fruition because as Tracy says, "Route 66 is a vortex of coincidence. An amazing number of paths cross here."
Neri maintains an entertaining arc of mystery throughout, providing a litany of characters from the quirky retired city cop masquerading as a western sheriff in a small county to the former beauty queen cum minister's wife who poses for risqué photos when she gets bored. You will be totally amused, delighted, and engrossed with this light-hearted mystery on wheels.
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