The Little Death exposes the “Bizarro World” of Palm Beach, Florida in 1989, a gin-soaked, blue-blooded island of heiresses in flippy tennis skirts, negligent husbands, and ritzy charity balls. Victor Bevine narrates with a silky, insinuating charm and satiny command of Palm Beach affectations. While The Little Death is tenth in the Louis Kincaid detective series by P. J. Parrish (nom de plume of sisters and co-authors Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols), the character-driven plot line excels as a stand-alone mystery of betrayal and seduction between crisp, white bedsheets, so there’s no need to download the books sequentially.
When the headless corpse of handsome Mark Durand lands 60 miles east of Palm Beach, Louis Kincaid and partner Mel Landeta, a prickly ex-Miami cop going blind from a progressive eye disease, are hired to clear Reggie Kent, possibly the dead man’s lover, of his murder. Gallant, aging Reggie is a “walker”, escorting lonely married women to posh galas for a living. Durand was his protégé and when it turns out he’d begun sleeping with clients, secrets tumble, kindling danger, until the ruthless killer strikes again.
The Little Death is a hypnotic, suspenseful listen that owes much to Bevine’s mesmerizing gift for inhabiting characters astutely and with nuance. As Louis, he murmurs and hangs back, coding each sentence with depleted irony, honoring the crossroads Kincaid has reached. Bevine connects with virtuous Andrew Swann, a young local cop, by honing in on his fascination with precision, order, and the newly invented science of DNA testing. Swann is a clipped, spare speaker without pleasantries to dispense. In contrast, Mel booms. He is volatile, sophisticated, and whiny. For a book populated by adults named “Bunny” and “Tink”, there’s nothing silly about The Little Death. And when a flame-haired socialite urges Kincaid, “Die with me”, you may wonder, what if he did? Nita Rao