Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler is the second novel in the Laurel and Helen New York Mystery series, in which the reporter and private eye team up to help a young women in fear of her life (available November 1, 2013).
Laurel Imperiole is an investigative journalist working for Women Now magazine, headquartered in New York City. When she receives a disturbing e-mail from a reader, Anne Ellsworth, she feels duty bound to help. Anne is a lonely young woman who suspects that her fiance, David Adams, isn’t all that he seems to be. Laurel senses the opportunity to write an article on how women in relationships can tread the fine line of respecting their partners’ privacy while still protecting themselves in an age of rampant identity theft, contrasting Anne’s situation with her own.
Laurel herself has rebounded hard into a six-month relationship with the very private Matt Kuhn, whom she thinks she’s falling in love with. She believes he’ll serve as a good complement to Anne’s duplicitous fiance. With this in mind, she gives Anne solid advice on how to dissociate herself from David, but finds Matt oddly hostile to her story idea. And when Laurel later sees Matt in the city, despite his claim of being in Italy, she turns to the only person she thinks will understand her fears and, better still, know what to do about them.
This person is the redoubtable private investigator Helen McCorkendale, an older woman who happens to be dating Laurel’s father, Mike. She welcomes Laurel’s concerns as a refreshing break from the insurance investigation her old friend and ex-lover, Joe Santangelo, has asked her to help his company with. The case has led Helen unsettlingly close to the Mafia, so a simple background check seems like something quick and easy to close while she distances herself from the insurance case.
But then Anne disappears, leaving a letter in her abandoned car for Laurel, and the police get involved. This wouldn’t be so bad if the guy in charge of the investigation wasn’t Aaron Gerrard, a cop with whom Laurel had a disastrous break-up immediately before meeting Matt.