I’m a huge fan of P. J. Parrish, and when I won an ARC of THE LITTLE DEATH, I could hardly wait for it to arrive. I nearly shoved my company out the door last year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving so I could dive into Louis Kincaid’s world once more, and I was not disappointed. Like all P. J. Parrish mysteries, this book is beautifully plotted, with twists and turns that surprised and delighted me, and an ending that left me thinking long after I closed the cover.
But the best part of this book is its characters. Louis and his friend, Mel Landeta, travel across the state to help a client in the rarified world of Palm Beach, Florida. Reggie Kent, the client, is a “walker,” a man hired by wealthy women to squire them to Palm Beach high society events. Reggie is, however, a suspect in the brutal murder of a man who shared both his house and his profession. In the course of their investigation, Louis and Mel encounter a fascinating cast of characters, the most interesting of which is the society of Palm Beach itself. The gulf between citizens of Palm Beach and the rest of us can be summarized by the strata of its society: the old guard (the “core” people), then the A-list who have lived in Palm Beach forever, then celebrities and royalty and, finally, the arrevistes (the newly arrived), labeled NOCDs – “Not Our Class, Dear.” Nowhere on this list do the regular folks appear, the ones who police the streets, wait on tables, fix the plumbing or staff the library.
I found this glimpse into a world of money and privilege fascinating, a world where people treat sex and money casually, where maintaining one’s status is everything. The book is made richer by the contrast between the old guard and the rest of the cast – a homophobic sheriff, an Hispanic woman struggling to raise her child alone, a cop wanting to live up to his father’s legacy, a ranch foreman with a secret love, and more. THE LITTLE DEATH is a book I’ll remember for a long time. Thanks again to Kris Montee for this experience. If I ever find myself in Palm Beach, I’ll look at it with an entirely new set of eyes. A great read!