By Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, May, 2020

Amanda Pennyworth is beginning a new job as American Counsel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It's a position that seems a dream job at first, but turns into a nightmare when a famous expat writer vanishes and Amanda becomes involved in searching for him. At first the reader might wonder why a Counsel would be drawn into such an investigation, but keep in mind that this is Mexico. The layers of politics surrounding the Mexican Federales and local authorities immerses Amanda in layers of subterfuge and corruption that raise more problems than they solve about not just one man's life, but a plot that thickens. Amanda shows an uncanny ability to absorb many of the investigative processes of those professionally involved in the PI business. From utilizing a facial recognition technique that involves equating animal cues with faces and names to navigating both State Department protocol and her rising fears that something is very wrong in Mexico, the story embarks on a satisfyingly complex journey.


Readers need have little familiarity with Mexican politics or culture in order to appreciate Zona Romantica's setting and action. Everything is laid out during the course of the story, from the position and processes of the typical American Counsel to the motivations of an intuitive investigator who sees "...a different edge of things." From a journey into a botanical forest and ransom money that doesn't do the job to Amanda's strange feeling that somehow Joshua Talbot knew he was about to be kidnapped, Zona Romantica winds through all kinds of connections and clues as it crafts a satisfying, engaging mystery designed to keep readers moving through Mexico with Amanda, discovering clues embedded in cultural revelations and special challenges. The dash of romance added to the intrigue and historical references keeps Zona Romantica a thoroughly inviting read, juxtaposing personal and political observations right up to an unexpected conclusion.