Last year I was approached about reading and potentially reviewing a contemporary detective novel that involved time travel. I like both kinds of novels but this one didn’t sound like a fantasy genre novel, aside from that pesky time travel thingy. The end of this little tale is that I loved Liv Spector’s novel, The Rich And The Dead, so when I learned Book #2, The Beautiful And The Wicked, was coming out, I could hardly wait.
This Miami-based series features a former police detective who uses a tech wunderkind’s machine to travel back to try to solve cold cases by getting right into the thick of things as they’re about to go down. Sound too simple? It’s not. Sound like fun? Yes, it is! And Book #2 can easily be read as a stand-alone novel so, if you like what you read below, be sure to enter our giveaway!
Each time Lila Day travels back in time using tech billionaire Teddy’s secret time machine, she has a harder time regaining herself fully when she arrives in the present. She’s not letting Teddy know that though because he might stop her from using it again and there are still cases she’s got to solve, one especially. She can tell he suspects something might be up though because he gets that serious furrowed brow look while she’s recovering.
There’s one case in particular she has to solve no matter what. It’s the case that made her want to become a cop in the first place – a 2008 case involving her older sister Ava. Ava was pegged as the killer of Jack Warren, CEO and founder of an international software conglomerate and a billionaire playboy. Ava was allegedly his mistress and is still wanted for his murder aboard his luxury yacht. Lila is convinced that instead his wife, Elise Warren, was his real killer. She’s been trying to prove that ever since she became a cop, with no luck.
“A rags-to-riches Silicon Valley billionaire several times over, Jack was both envied and reviled. He’d been called a tech genius, a megalomaniac, a messiah, and a monster, depending on whom you asked. But, be he savior, Satan, or sadist, he was above all viciously competitive. Whatever he put his energies toward, he made sure his was the best in the world – no matter the cost.”
Proving Ava’s innocence had driven Lila’s career but finding the truth once and for all suddenly becomes urgent when she learns Elise’s third husband has just been found dead of an apparent suicide. Lila is convinced Elise murdered him, just like her first two wealthy husbands – and it looks like she’s about to get away with it again. There is no way Lila is going to let Elise keep doing this. She has to stop Elise and prove Ava’s innocence so Ava can come out of hiding.
“’Suicide?’ That’s bullshit,’ she spat. She was growing angrier by the second. Her nerves were electric. ‘You and I both know he didn’t kill himself.’
‘Let’s not jump to conclusions, Lila. You don’t know what happened.’ Teddy gave her a nervous look.
‘I know exactly what happened. His wife killed him,’ she said defiantly.
‘Elise Warren? You don’t know that, Lila’ He regarded her warily.
‘Like hell I don’t!’
Teddy and Lila had known each other for a little over a year, and in that time he’d seen how her obsessions could get the better of her. And there was nothing Lila was more obsessed with than Elise Warren.
Lila’s mind was racing. She said, ‘She’s done it before, Teddy. Twice. And she got away with it…twice. Two husbands dead. Are you trying to tell me she didn’t off the third?’”
Lila knows Ava, an artist, is alive even though the world thinks she perished in 2008 when her escape boat was found abandoned near Cuba with her blood in it. Lila only knows Ava is alive because she periodically gets small landscape paperback book size paintings done by her in the mail. Always her sister has left whatever country the mail comes from by the time Lila gets it but at least she knows her sister is still out there somewhere. She wants to clear Ava’s name and reunite with her more than anything.
Convincing Teddy to let her go back into the past so soon after recovering is hard enough but this violates his strictest rule, that she is not to work any case in the past with which she has a personal connection. He feels the chances are too great that she’ll be tempted to try to change events, which could have a catastrophic effect on the time continuum. Not only that but she can’t let her sister see her and the level of temptation to disclose herself “accidentally” would be too great, with more potentially catastrophic results.
Will it even be possible to be on a yacht with her sister without her sister seeing and recognizing her? How will Lila bear to be that close to her sister without giving herself away? And is anyone strong enough to stand by while a murder takes place what will cause so much pain for herself and her family?
Teddy is adamant that Jack Warren must be allowed to die aboard the yacht on his fiftieth birthday, even if it means Ava is the one who kills him on purpose or accidentally. Lila agrees that to not allow him to die would have severe repercussions on time going forward, so she agrees to let him die even if she learns Ava is the one who did it. Of course, it’s easier for Lila to make that agreement since she firmly believes Elise is the killer.
To get aboard the yacht she takes on the persona of Nikki Kelly, a real yacht stewardess who Lila unfortunately soon learns is also a drug courier. That drug thing poses a problem but it’s nothing Lila can’t handle. Then there’s the stewardess part. How hard could stewardessing aboard a luxury yacht be? Look pretty, serve the guests, etc. As it turns out, it’s actually damn hard and Lila doesn’t have a clue how to do most of it. The head stewardess threatens to fire her every time she turns around because, let’s face it, Lila sucks at this gross job. But for some reason, it never happens. That alone is a miracle.
She quickly learns Jack Warren is a consummate entitled jerk of the highest order. If no one else wanted to murder him, Lila would be tempted because the earth will be well rid of him. He makes life miserable for everyone around him, probably because he’s miserable. He can’t be bothered to do his job as CEO, leaving running the company to his CFO. He’s also a husband in name only – so much so that Lila doesn’t blame Elise quite as much for killing him. Although, she still believes Elise is as nasty as her husband and they probably deserve each other. Their teenage daughter is acting out all over the place. What a dysfunctional mess of a family. And then there are Jack’s frenemies, who he treats like crap and who are plotting behind his back to take over his company with the CFO.
There are so many potential killers on board this yacht, it will be a miracle if Jack even lives long enough for the murder to happen when it’s scheduled to happen. How is Lila going to find out who the real killer is and protect her sister without getting fired or doing something that could change time for good? Given what a massive jerk Jack is, he probably is as mean to Ava as to everyone else. What if that means Ava actually killed him? Lila can’t believe her sweet, kind sister would ever harm anyone but Jack would make even a saint consider murder. Can Lila find the killer in time? Can she save her sister without screwing up the future?
Every once in a while you meet a character in a novel who you’d love to meet as a real person. Lila is one of those people, and so is Teddy for that matter. Lila is a kick-butt heroine but she’s also an every-woman who’s smart and resourceful. She’s a realist who’s willing to suspend disbelief long enough to actually make scary-as-hell jumps through time to see justice done. How cool is that? Teddy is so super smart that it would be a joy to pick his brain…not to mention that he’s a really nice guy and those can be hard to find sometimes. As for the one-percenters who are yacht guests and hosts – they just prove once again that power, politics, and money often change people and not in good ways.
I find it ironic that an author in Canada writes novels about Miami – a little warm climate wishful thinking there. That said, Liv Spector captures the vibe and diversity of Miami beautifully in this series and she really captures the privileged set in The Beautiful And The Wicked. Her use of time travel is only a vehicle for Lila Day to do what needs to be done. Everything else about these whodunit detective novels is completely reality based. There’s something so satisfying and downright cool about a character who’s able to go back and do the legwork to see that justice is served on those who think they are above justice. I love this devious mystery series and I hope Ms. Spector writes many more Lila Day novels!
Can’t wait to read it?
The Beautiful And The Wicked was published on December 2, 2014, so it’s available from your favorite online bookseller below (or in the right column for iBooks). Just click the button/link and go get it to read now!
I’d love to get your comments on The Beautiful And The Wicked, Liv Spector or her other work, and/or this review.
Click here to read our review of The Rich And The Dead, Book #1 in the Lila Day time-traveling detective series.
If you like this review, please contribute to our Reviewers’ Caffeine Fund in the left column. Just a cup a day, that’s all we ask.
One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance readers copy) of The Beautiful And The Wicked by Liv Spector!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 12/13/2014, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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