ROSALIE KNECHT – Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery. Vera Kelly #2. Tin House Books, Trade paperback original, 2020.

   Truth be told, Vera Kelly was not a private eye in her first recorded adventure, that being Who Is Vera Kelly? (Tin House, 2018). In that one, which I haven’t read, so please forgive me if I have some details wrong, she was recruited by the CIA for her computer skills and shipped off to Argentina to do some undercover work there. That was in the mid-1960s, she was only a 20-something, and when a new political regime took over, she was abandoned and had to make her way back to the States on her own.

   When book Number Two begins, it is August 1967, and she is living in Brooklyn (Brighton Beach), and it is a very bad day. Her live-in girl friend has left her, and her boss (she is working as a film editor for a small TV station) overhears her talking to Jane and fires her. As I say, not a good day.

   She needs a new way to make a living, to start with, and this is when she puts ads in both the Post and the Times looking for clients who need the services of a private investigator. Things do not go swimmingly at first, but at last she hooks one. A man and wife are looking for a young boy, their nephew, who has gone missing. The boy’s parents are back in Dominica, and they may be in jail after Trujillo’s ouster. (When Balaguer took over, the country was in total chaos.) They had managed to get their son to the US, but when his foster parent in this country died, he disappeared. Vera’s job: find him.

   Her very first case, and it is quite a way to get her feet wet.  In the end, though, after some interesting side trails that perhaps she needn’t have taken, she prevails.

   This is not your traditional gritty PI novel. At times it as much a study of Vera Kelly’s life as it is a hunt for a missing boy, and in an unusual haunting, somewhat surreal fashion. In some ways she is finding herself as well as solving the case. Not really a guy’s book at all, but when it comes down to it, here’s the crucial question: would I read the next book in the series, if there is one? My answer: yes.