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Mavis Davis, a likable, new-to-the-job private investigator, not only has one of the wackiest office staffs in mystery fiction but also goes about solving her first crime in her own, independent, highly interesting way. Frustrated and fed up with her job as a probation officer in Houston, Mavis has opened an office (Mavis Davis Productions) staffed it with her somewhat ditzy friend Margaret, as assistant, and Candy, a part-time high school student, and is trying to eke out a living searching files and serving legal papers for lawyers. So Mavis is startled and more than a little apprehensive when Carl Singleton, the owner of a small Houston greasy-spoon café, comes to her office intent upon hiring her to solve the murder of one of his waitresses, Doris Jones, a woman with whom he has fallen in love. The police have linked the Jones murder to two other murders in the area, positive they’re all the work of a serial killer, identity unknown, but Carl is convinced that Doris’ murder doesn’t fit into the serial pattern and, as Mavis begins her investigation, she agrees. Mavis barely has begun to sort through the evidence on hand when two insistent members of the Houston police force put pressure on her to drop the case: the mean-tempered detective in charge, who’d once had a run-in with Mavis while she was working as a probation officer; and Sgt. Benjamin Sorensen, Mavis’ love interest. During Mavis’ initial meeting with Singleton, he had told her that Doris was a mystery woman who had come out of nowhere and asked for a job. She was quiet and “elegant” and obviously not the type to wait tables at a café like Singleton’s. As Mavis pursues the investigation, she discovers surprising and shocking clues to the past life of this woman of mystery, who was not who and what she seemed. Mavis endangers her own life when she uncovers a Texas scandal of major proportions.

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