In Kathleen Y'Barbo's third novel of The Secret Lives of Will Tucker, we discover there isn't just one William Tucker - there are two, the identical twins William Jefferson and William John. Upon being released from a year of wrongful imprisonment, it could be said that British detective William Jefferson Tucker has some unresolved issues with his criminal twin brother, especially since John deliberately put him there in the first place after managing to convince the powers that be that Jefferson was the real criminal and he (William John) was the innocent. Pretty Pinkerton agent Sadie Callum knows the truth, so she springs Jefferson, but she is mighty tired of being on the Tucker Case when what she really wants is to be on a case involving international art fraud. However, soon it appears that two are mixed up somehow - is it only because Jefferson was the British agent on the case before he was incarcerated? Or are he and John really in cahoots, trading off on their good twin/bad twin reputation to swindle them all?
Once again it is Y'Barbo's talent with spectacular secondary characters that really makes the book. Sadie's father, her mother, her Uncle Penn - there's more to each of them than meets the eye. Even the bit parts, like Jefferson's spunky granny, play an important and memorable role in the plot. Considering that Sadie has five brothers and that they are relatively minor characters, I was impressed by how distinct the author was able to make
them - they were definitely individuals, not just a unit.
One overarching theme of the series is the importance of family, and it is the pivot point for the main characters in this book. No matter how annoying, meddlesome, or untrustworthy they are, one always wants to believe the best in one's family, to give them a chance to do things right. As much as Jefferson believes his brother deserves to be in jail - and he is more than willing to put him there himself - he still falls for his brother's cons, always hoping that he'll finally choose the path of right. Sadie has a wonderful family; in spite of their overprotective, meddling ways, you can tell how much they love her, and just how much she loves and respects them back. Even though she often feels hemmed in by them, and though she does not always agree with them, their opinions factor heavily in her decisions.
While I very much enjoyed the first two of the series, this one was my favorite. Watching two detectives practice their trade on each other to worm out information and manipulate behavior was quite amusing. Much of the story is fun and romantic, but there is also discussion of serious topics, and a time in which my eyes did not remain precisely dry. It is a novel not of revenge, but of truth, trust, and restoration.
Thank you Harvest House and Netgalley for providing a free, advance e-copy for the purpose of review. I was not required to make it positive; all opinions expressed are my own.
The Secret Lives of Will Tucker begins with Flora's Wish, followed by Millie's Treasure, and is concluded in Sadie's Secret.