Cover of Lost to Dune Road by Kara Thomas. A darkened shot of a road at night.

About the Book

Title: Lost to Dune Road
Published: 2024

Cover Story: Road Trip
Drinking Buddy: Hell, yes
MPAA Rating: R (sexual assault, suicide, language, drugs, drinking, you get the picture)
Talky Talk: Rage
Bonus Factor: Wingmen
Anti-Bonus Factor: Human Trafficking
Bromance Status: Wish This Was a Series

Content Warning: Sexual Assault, Suicide

Cover Story: Road Trip

Well, that certainly is a road. Probably the titular Dune Road. Still, the tiny illustration does give us the impression of a street where you wouldn’t want your car to break down at night.

The Deal:

Lee Ellerin was once an ace reporter, about to crack a big murder investigation. But when she failed to properly vet a witness, she was run out of the business. She’s now working as a private investigator, chasing down bogus worker comp claims.

But years later, a tragedy strikes. A very young photographer is found with her wrists slit in her bathtub and is now in a coma. And she was very pregnant. Just a kid who made some bad choices? Except…she was last seen on Dune Road in the Hamptons. That’s where the murder victim Lee had been researching vanished. What’s more, Amanda had a note with Lee’s name written on it.

Amanda’s mother does not believe her daughter would try to kill herself. She hires Lee to get to the bottom of this. But there are forces out there who don’t want the truth to be uncovered. Powerful, important people who might have wanted to shut up Amanda for good. And are willing to do the same to Lee.

Drinking Buddy: Hell, yes

Two pints of beer cheersing

Lee is a badass PI in every sense of the word. She’s not afraid to dig up dirt on some of the most powerful people in the city. Amanda deserves answers, and she’s going to find them. But she’s a reporter at heart. She took this detective gig to pay the bills, but she knows if she can crack this case, maybe she can be a respected journalist again. At the same time, Lee’s in her mid thirties, and her only companion in the evenings is her late father’s cursing parrot. Would it really be such a bad thing to have someone to come home to?

MPAA Rating: R (sexual assault, suicide, language, drugs, drinking, you get the picture)

I have to warn you, this book does not pull any punches. We get a look at the real seedy underbelly of what goes on at rich people parties. A lot of the chapters are told from Amanda’s POV, as she meets the man who gets her pregnant and falls deeper and deeper into his web (though we’re never told what is name is until the end). It’s a good whodunnit, but not for people who prefer the ‘missing jewels’ or ‘locked room murder’ types of cozy mysteries.

Talky Talk: Rage

The more I read, the more I wanted Lee to go in and kick some ass. There are horrible people out there, and they often excuse any sort of crime with their wealth. It’s nice that Amanda has someone like Lee in her corner…though why did Amanda have Lee’s name?

Also, Lee is a human, just like anyone else. She gets lonely. While working on the older case, she connected with a police officer named Chase, whose career was damaged along with Lee’s. And now he’s engaged and working for the feds. Even if they need to partner up again, all of that is in the past, right?

I love how a woman who deals with the ugliest side of life is still thinking about a single kiss from years ago.

Bonus Factor: Wingmen

Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo from 13 Going On 30 cuddling

Aside from Chase, there’s Nelson, a cantankerous old cop who worries that Lee is turning over rocks she shouldn’t. And there’s Dom, who employees her as a private eye. A surly, angry, macho gay man who knows how brave Lee is, but doesn’t want to see her hurt. These guys have her back. But…is anyone looking out for them? Amanda had some very powerful people interested in her.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Human Trafficking

Statue of blindfolded Lady Justice holding a scale and sword

Amanda’s story is one we’ve heard before. A talented photographer, out of her depth in a new city, broke and wondering if she should just go home. A job offer at a country club. The attention of a handsome, powerful older man, who could make her career. An invitation to work at a private party. Liquor. Confusion. A lost night.

And now Amanda is carrying the child of someone who can’t let that be known. But he’ll meet her halfway. Set her up in a ritzy apartment. Have the baby quietly adopted. It’ll be okay. Trust me.

Bromance Status: Wish This Was a Series

I’d be willing to read more about Lee and her future adventures.

Literary Matchmaking

Out of the Ashes

Out of the Ashes, by the same author, has a similar vibe.

Swipe Right for Murder

Derek Milman’s Swipe Right for Murder is another ‘this goes all the way to the top’ type of book.

Boy Nobody (The Unknown Assassin #1)

Allen Zadoff’s Boy Nobody is a more intense story of murder and intrigue.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but no money or free drinks.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.