“You always think that once you get power, you’ll change the rules.” – Iris Thorne
Slugging it out with the big boys in the trenches of Los Angeles’ glittering financial district Iris Thorne has to fight for every scrap of power she can get, and all too often finds herself playing by a set of rules she feels both stacked against her and powerless to change.
Still, she has an apartment with a nice view of the ocean, a closet full of designer clothes (even if they aren’t quite paid off yet), and a snazzy Triumph sports car (even if it does leak a little oil). All told, she’s doing well for herself and has had no reason to question the path her life is taking. All that changes overnight when one of her coworkers is murdered.
Alley Munoz was not only the mailroom/all-around “go to” guy in the office, he was also Iris’ best friend at the company. Having previously taught the deaf for several years before embarking on her financial career, Iris got along well with Alley, who was himself both deaf and physically handicapped as well.
When the police seem inclined to write-off Alley’s death as being the result of a drug deal gone wrong given his ethnicity and the location of the murder Iris is incensed, and determined to prove them wrong. Easier said than done, especially considering the lead detective on the case, John Somers, also happens to be the man Iris was seriously involved with during her college years. Now Iris not only has to deal with essentially solving Alley’s murder on her own, but also with the feelings stirred up by the divorced detective’s reappearance in her life.
Iris’ poking around stirs up more than she bargained for when she opens a safety deposit box Alley left her access to and finds over $200,000 in cash. Further digging unearths evidence that suggests both money laundering and massive embezzlement is occurring at her firm. Suddenly Iris has a bigger problem on her hands than convincing the police Alley wasn’t involved with drugs; she has to stay one step ahead of some very bad guys who are none too pleased that she’s upset their operation.
Cold Call‘s late 80s setting is a vivid trip down memory lane for those who lived through that “Greed is good” period of excess. From the Rolex wearing, coke snorting boys in the office to the Anne Klein power suits worn by Iris to the jams and oversized t-shirt with rolled sleeves worn by Detective Somers’ daughter, the period details are spot on. Indeed, Cold Call provides the same nostalgic atmosphere – and well-written mystery – that you get with Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series.
It’s not all just an atmospheric trip down memory lane, however, as our introduction to Iris Thorne proves her to be a smart, determined, complicated character more than worthy of having a series built around her. You’ll not only be rooting for her to solve the mystery, but also pulling for her to punch one particularly obnoxious “Boys Club” coworker’s lights out, something she’s more than capable of doing. Iris Thorne is one Cold Call you will actually be happy to answer.
PS – Stay tuned for a guest post from Dianne tomorrow about her own walk down memory lane revising the Iris Thorne books for reissue.