Time and Trouble: An Emma Howe and Billie August Mystery by Gillian Roberts

Time and Trouble: An Emma Howe and Billie August Mystery by Gillian Roberts
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (217 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Seasoned investigator Emma Howe has been in the business so long nothing can surprise her. But her new assistant, an overeducated single mother named Billie August, nearly manages to amaze her. Billie is quick, ambitious, smart. And a lot tougher than she appears. That’s a good thing, because Emma has just taken a case that will rock both of their worlds.

Sophie Redmond has come to Emma in a desperate search for her teenage daughter, whom she fears has joined a bizarre cult. In an odd twist of fate, Emma and Billie recognize wheelchair-bound Mrs. Redmond as an insurance scammer they’ve been tailing for another client. The woman’s fake injuries are only one symptom of a family plunge into darkness-a legacy one troubled girl wants desperately to escape.

Emma Howe, a private investigator who owns her own agency, has just lost yet another employee and she is in desperate need of help. Billie August, a single mother with a young son, needs a job, and she is pleased that Emma hires her as a novice investigator, getting paid the minimum for her first six thousand hours as she learns how to be a P.I. However, Billie soon discovers that she has a lot to learn and quickly.

I was hooked from the Dorothy Sayers quote that opens this novel. “Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.” Billie and Emma are an unlikely pair, brought together by circumstances, and Billie is not sure that she will succeed, but she gives it her all.

I liked both characters. They are very different but they are very real people. The plot is complex, with a variety of different characters and events tumbling on top of each other. The story is told from several different points of view. We have Penny, the runaway teen, Stephen, a young man with a good heart, in addition to Billie and Emma. Each of these characters tells their part in the adventures.

The different story lines are brought together rather like a patchwork quilt. It isn’t until the very end that the various parts come into focus, and the conclusion is filled with suspense and drama. I did not figure things out any faster than Billie did, and in fact, I thought that there were just a series of separate stories with a common thread. The reality was very different and totally took me by surprise even though the clues were all there. They just were well hidden among all the events.

Mystery lovers are sure to enjoy watching Billie as she learns on the job, and the dynamics between Billie and Emma add to the tension. I look forward to more adventures with Emma and Billie.

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