Loyalty kicks off with a strange blend of dysfunctional family and legal drama—think Dynasty meets LA Law—but once Fina Ludlow, Boston private eye and black-sheep daughter of the powerful Ludlow clan of high-priced shysters, hits the mean streets, all is forgiven.
There are some unfortunate (and unneeded) early lapses into Janet Evanovich territory in an attempt to make Fina “quirky”—the Pop Tarts and junk food diet might pass, but does she really have to keep her thong on a kitchen sideboard? And is it really necessary for her to (already) be torn between two lovers, hunky masseuse (and sometime muscle) Milloy and equally hunky, exasperated police detective Cristian?
Meanwhile, the intrusive third-person narration too often undermines the action, as when we’re condescendingly informed that “there’s a world of morally ambiguous and outright criminal activity that is always pulsing and known to few...”
Still, when her sister-in-law Melanie disappears, Fina proves she’s got plenty of the right stuff, digging relentlessly into the case, cracking wise, and taking on all comers, even as her father (and boss) Carl, the control-freak patriarch of both the family and Ludlow & Associates, cautions his daughter not to do anything to attract unwarranted negative attention or besmirch the reputation of either.
Ooops! Too late!
Especially when Melanie’s body is discovered and her brother Rand is arrested for murder.
Not since Spenser hung up his gumshoes has a private eye ruffled the feathers of Beantown propriety with such gusto, as the cocky Fina tears deep into closely guarded secrets—and not just those of the contentious Ludlow clan. There’s also a snooty madame, her son the disgraced doctor, and plenty of people in places both high and low with more than just reputations to protect. Plus a wild card teenage niece who may—or may not—be hooking on the side.
Overwritten at times and too eager by half, maybe, and the third-place narration needs to be slapped down, but Fina’s hands-on approach to detective work, her determination to stand on her own, and her easy-going banter with Milloy, a pleasant blend of wit and grit, bode well for this new series. And Ingrid Thoft’s willingness to probe some surprisingly dark familial shadows is to be applauded. Ditch the cop and let Fina speak for herself next time, and I’ll be there.
(Hmmm. Does that mean I’m in Camp Milloy?)