The rich may be different, but Dakota Stevens is his usual fast-talking, facetious and flirtatious self in Chris Orcutt’s second novel in the Dakota Stevens mystery series.
Enigmatic heiress Vivian Vaillancourt hires ex-FBI-turned-PI, Dakota Stevens and his “highly capable associate”, Svetlana Krüsh, to find out who killed Sidney, her twin brother. This leads Dakota to the town of Ricochet, Sidney’s western theme park of sorts. Here Stevens takes on the role as deputy sheriff and must navigate between an artificial world of actors and roles and the people and motives off stage. But the stakes get higher when Stevens winds up investigating the other murders that take place and dodging bullets aimed at him.
THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT brings back the smooth Dakota Stevens with his keen eye for detail, gentlemanly behavior and general wisecracking and witty shtick that make him both charismatic and agreeable. Stevens narrates with insightful and humorous observations that bring the nostalgia of the detective noir style: “Alexei stared at me, but I saw his stare and raised it.” He makes references to literary classics such as Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland; but Stevens, even in the height of tension, gains insight and inspirational from detective paradigms: “What would Jim Rockford do?”
Though some of Stevens’ tongue-in-cheek comments may be groan worthy, they keep the mood of the mystery light, while adding to Stevens’ very disarming appeal; as seen in this exchange between Stevens and a possible suspect:
“I’m getting the idea you don’t like the guy,” I said.
“Let’s put it this way.” She stared at a spot on the wall. “I’d ram a pair of scissors through his temple if I knew I could get away with it.”
“Remind me not to get any haircuts from you.”
Keeping Stevens’ ego in check is Svetlana, his brilliant associate, who brings out the sentimental side of the refined detective. She, too however reveals the same ability to maintain composure while slyly commenting on a witness’ report:
“Any other description by the janitor?” I asked.
“He said the nurse had blonde hair and a . . . uh . . . nice chest.”
“A remarkable eye for detail,” Svetlana said.
Orcutt’s writing is succinct, clear and smooth. Characters are well rounded and developed throughout the story, effectively showcased by their mannerisms and speech rather than straight explanation. Though clues are artfully revealed, the plot has several twists that keep the reader guessing in this charming sequel to A REAL PIECE OF WORK.
Dakota Stevens is thoroughly likeable and appealing with his rich mix of chivalry and clever mischief.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader