Gillian Roberts. Whatever Doesn’t Kill You (2001) 312 pp.
Private investigator Emma Howe’s hiring of young Billie August was an act of desperation. She needed an assistant and could pay very little; Billie needed a job and would take what she could get. But both women were surprised to find that in spite of Billie’s inexperience and Emma’s tendency to bully, they were slowly coming to respect each other. Now they are faced with two cases involving more than the routine surveillance of suspected insurance fraud perpetrators. A young man of deficient mental ability has been accused of murdering a woman who had befriended him on their daily jogging route. Emma has handed this case to Billie, though the evidence against him is convincing and she has no hope that the younger woman can come up with anything new. Emma herself takes on another case that seems destined to lead to a dead end—a young woman who knows she is adopted wants to find her birth mother. There’s not much hope that either investigation will find anything helpful, but both the accused young man’s mother and the adopted woman are eager to try, and the fees will pay the month’s rent. The detectives are not only amazed to find that the two seemingly so-different cases are moving closer and closer together, but that they may, indeed, be successful in each. What they also find, almost too late, is that the secrets they are uncovering are leading them into danger.