Dead Lift by Rachel Brady is the second book in the “Emily Locke” mystery series. Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press, December 2010

Single mom Emily Locke is building a new life with her daughter. Hoping to spend more time at home, she’s put her career on hold to work part-time for her private investigator friend, Richard Cole. It’s a nice balance between work and family until Emily finds out she’s been working for the attorney that defended her husband’s killer.

The discovery nearly destroys her friendship with Richard, but Emily resists abandoning his client, the socialite Claire Gaston, who awaits trial for the murder of a local plastic surgeon. The threat of losing her children to a self-serving ex-husband terrifies Claire more than the specter of a life behind bars.

Claire has been leading a wildly unconventional life and passing around access to her home and assets like popcorn. Should she be condemned for bad choices? Emily, haunted by her own, doesn’t think so.

Meanwhile, Emily’s wild-child friend Jeannie, in town for a visit, sees a chance for Emily to loosen up when a mysterious note leads her into a daring undercover ruse at a high-brow ladies health club. Emily fakes conformity with Houston’s elite debutantes and trophy wives in a surreal fitness subculture where things, and people, are seldom what they seem. At this gym, “killer workout” has a whole new meaning.

After being reunited with her daughter, Emily works part-time for her PI friend. When she learns she is working for the lawyer she despises, because she believes in the innocence of his client, she puts her feelings on hold to work the case. With help from her BFF Jeannie, nothing will stop this duo until justice prevails. The clever plot, an outstanding cast of characters and an action-filled ride kept me intrigued and rooting for all that Emily does to reclaim her life, both personally and professionally. This book immediately captured my attention and it never wavered as I quickly consumed the pages to great satisfaction. Dead Lift is the best one yet in the Emily Locke series. My rating: 5 stars

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