Pat Welch. Murder by the Book (1990) 241 pp. [tpo]
Publishers description: Christmas time in Berkeley, California is coming up grim for Helen Black, PI. Clients have been scarce, and her lover, Freida, is no happier about this new profession of Helens than she was about her previous career as a cop. Then Helen lands her first important case. Her client is wealthy lesbian Donna Forsythe, whose lover is a prime suspect in the death of an employee in a bank vault. One of eight bank employees has to be guilty. But which one—and why? Why was only $200 taken from the vault? The Christmas tree in the bank lobby seems significant to the crime—but why? What hidden association did the guilty employee have with the murdered man? And what about Ben, the derelict? Can Helen decipher from his gibberish what he saw on the night of the murder? Suddenly the roster of suspects is reduced by one…and Helen herself is attacked. Whodunnit? And what about Helens increasingly prickly relationship with Freida?