This originally appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers, and is reprinted here with permission.
Fina Ludlow is a private investigator for her family’s law firm, but the case she gets assigned in Ingrid Thoft’s debut novel, Loyalty, is personal. Her sister-in-law Melanie is missing, and the police are looking at the obvious suspect—her husband, Rand, Fina’s brother and a partner at the firm. Carl, the steely patriarch, wants Fina to find Melanie and make the bad publicity go away.
Fina has help from two hot guys: Milloy, her friend with benefits, and detective Cristian Menendez, with whom she exchanges sexy sparks. Neither can protect her from dangerous situations, however, as Fina’s investigation leads her to money launderers, porn mongers, and someone with a vendetta against the Ludlows. How far will Fina go to uncover the truth? Will it destroy her loyalty to her family?
The setup of a female private investigator working for the family business calls to mind Lisa Lutz’s Spellman series, and Fina’s vacillation between two attractive men echoes Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but Loyalty is much darker than either series and Fina is way deadlier. She doesn’t hesitate to use her gun and gets scrappy in bloody fights. She’s no fancy martial artist, just a resourceful, impatient woman who refuses to be a victim.
Thoft is adept at showing the Ludlows’ dysfunction, and the impossible mother is someone readers might love to hate. Thoft also has a good ear for dialogue, a nice eye for character-revealing details and a firm handle on a PI’s shoe-leather process. If she keeps it up, she’ll gain the loyalty of fans as this series continues.