Cover image for Whatever doesn't kill you
Whatever doesn't kill you
Roberts, Gillian, 1939-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
312 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Private investigator Emma Howe's hiring of young Billie August (see Time and Trouble , the first book in Gillian Roberts' new series) was an act of desperation. She needed an assistant and could pay very little; Billie needed a job and would take what she could get. But both women were surprised to find that in spite of Billie's inexperience and Emma's tendency to bully, they were slowly coming to respect each other.

Now they are faced with two cases involving more than the routine surveillance of suspected insurance fraud perpetrators. A young man of deficient mental ability has been accused of murdering a woman who had befriended him on their daily jogging route. Emma has handed this case to Billie, though the evidence against him is convincing and she has no hope that the younger woman can come up with anything new. Emma herself takes on another case that seems destined to lead to a dead end-- a young woman who knows she is adopted wants to find her birth mother; her adoptive mother refuses to cooperate. There's not much hope that either investigation will find anything helpful, but both the accused young man's mother and the adopted woman are eager to try, and the fees will pay the month's rent.

If either detective could extract information from the frightened young man, it would be gentle Billie rather than impatient Emma. Billie, whose own five-year-old son requires a knowing touch, gradually calms the troubled youth; Emma, meanwhile, is making progress on her own case, and the detectives are not only amazed to find that the two seemingly so-different cases are moving closer and closer together, but that they may, indeed, be successful in each.

What they also find, almost too late, is that the secrets they are uncovering are leading them into peril.

Author Notes

Gillian Roberts is well known for her Amanda Pepper series. This is her second book in a new series to feature Howe and August. She lives in Marin County, California, with her husband.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Roberts, author of the Amanda Pepper mysteries, brings Marin County investigator Emma Howe and her assistant Billie August back for a second installment. When Gavin Riddock, the developmentally disabled son of a socially prominent family, is accused of murdering a young woman who was his friend, his lawyer hires Emma to find evidence for the defense. She assigns Billie to the case because it seems to be a fruitless task. Billie, desperate for approval from her gruff mentor, works hard on the search while Emma helps an adopted woman look for her birth mother. The adoptive mother throws many obstacles in her path. As things progress, there appear to be links between the two cases. The solution will lead readers through the politically and economically diverse areas of wealthy Marin County and move Billie and Emma to a new phase in their relationship. Roberts (nom de mystere of Judith Greber) has created an engaging pair of sleuths who tackle fascinating cases. Expect mystery readers to adopt them and eagerly await further adventures. --Barbara Bibel

Publisher's Weekly Review

Flat characters and sketchy plotting mar this second installment (after 1998's Time and Trouble) of Anthony Award winner Roberts's series featuring Tiburon, Calif., PI Emma Howe and her assistant, Billie August. Defense attorney Michael Specht hires Emma to look into the case of Gavin Riddock, a mentally handicapped young man who's been arrested for the murder of his only friend, Tracy Lester. The evidence against Gavin is circumstantial but compelling, and his social awkwardness means that there are few people who haven't already convicted him in their hearts. Frustrated with unproductive interviews, Emma turns the case over to Billie for a fresh perspective. Billie wants to prove herself to her aloof, demanding boss, but she must juggle the competing demands of being a single mother and a competent PI. Meanwhile, Emma tries to locate the birth mother of another client and soon finds herself threading her way through the adoptive mother's lies and misdirections. The tension between Emma and Billie is engaging, but the other characters are one-dimensional. The author's presentation of the murder investigation is perfunctory and sometimes illogical; readers don't get the sense that it is building to a real understanding of what happened. The investigators themselves are unbelievably slow in picking up obvious clues, while the final resolution comes by means of a deus ex machina. This one's unlikely to make new converts to the series. (May 14) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved