Iris Duncan is almost 70 and completely alone after her husband dies. She lives in Pacific Heights in San Francisco, and she is unable to care for her large estate, of which her neighbor across the street, the head of the HOA, constantly reminded her. Iris also believes that someone is entering her home frequently and moving things around. When she encounters a waitress being treated poorly in Iris’s favorite café, she immediately hires her and her boyfriend, Seth, to be caretakers at her house to help with the upkeep. She offers them room and board at her house and treats them like family, especially Lydia, who is pregnant with her first child. When a 911 dispatcher receives a frantic call from Iris, and then a gunshot, they race to her house only to find no Iris and no Lydia or Seth, but a lot of blood.
Where is everyone? Are Lydia and Seth who they say they are? And who is Dolores? What happened to Iris? The truth begins to emerge, like in the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, where crumbs here and there lead the detectives to the truth. The premise of The House Sitter has been done before, but this is different and not at all what I expected. Told in dual points of view with the detective Maureen, Iris, and Lydia, in a before/after layout, there is lots of excitement, tension, and those little crumbs I mentioned. Ellery Kane does a great job at moving along the story at a good pace, intriguing the reader at the end of every chapter being left on a cliffhanger.
You can see that she had a plan for this mystery and was able to execute it flawlessly. While we are being veered towards one direction, suddenly we are on a completely different route, which certainly kept this reader on her toes. Each character is well thought out and keeping big secrets. Another wonderful thing about this book is the character of Iris is so batty that you never know, from her perspective, what is real and what isn’t.
This was my first Ellery Kane novel and I would be interested in picking up more of her books in the future. This seems to be a stand-alone, though I would love to see more of Maureen Shaw, the detective, in another novel. She was a unique character, and I enjoyed hearing her perspective on things.