Gypped, the latest installment of Carol Higgins Clark’s Regan and Jack Reilly series finds our intrepid investigators in Los Angeles, a place many call La-La Land — an appropriate name for the LA in this book.
Clark follows her typical pattern here: stupid criminals and Regan’s desire to help people get in the way of Regan and Jack’s chance to spend a little time together. This time, Regan runs into an old acquaintance, Zelda, who once appeared on a game show with Regan. Since the last time they met, though, Zelda has come into an $8 million inheritance, and she invites Regan to a party at a home she’s living in for charity.
A bunch of other characters wander on stage — a man who appears to be trying to steal cars, an older couple who try to hide their Internet scams from their adult children by setting up shop in the basement, Zelda’s father and his new, Vegas drive-thru wife, a waitress who wants to be an actress, Zelda’s financial adviser and his assistant, and many others. Clark slowly reveals the connections between these characters and as she does, we begin to see who’s good and who’s not, until it’s all settled in the end.
Clark’s plots always rely on coincidence, but the stories are played for laughs as well as solutions to the mystery, so that never bothers me. Regan Reilly mysteries are meant to be light fun: they can be read in a couple of sittings and you’re safe in the knowledge that all will end well, with Regan and Jack riding off — but not into the sunset. Since they’re in California this time, they’re trying to debating north or south. (My vote is for wine country.)