Andrea Harding has just graduated from Princeton and is preparing to spend her summer traveling through Europe before starting law school at Duke in the fall. She’s just your average twenty-something when a knock at her door in the middle of the night turns her world upside down. Her father, Nicholas, and Uncle Michael have been shot, and New Jersey state troopers are there to provide an escort to the hospital. The plot thickens as Andrea digs deeper into the story behind the shooting, and utilizes Beth Cowling, the Harding company lawyer and close friend of Dorothy Harding, the matriarch of Andrea’s family, to make connections in order to conduct her own investigation.
On the short list of suspects are close friends of the family, including Don Marshall, a very wealthy friend of the family who was involved in suspicious activity with Nicolas Harding a decade earlier, as well as Marcus Ricci, Andrea’s best friend’s father with ties to the New Jersey mob. As the scion of the Harding line, Andrea must take a subjective look at those closest to her personally and those close to her father professionally in order to gain insight into this tragedy.
An unseemly cast of characters, recommended by Beth Cowling, are contracted to help Andrea with her investigation, including an ex-NSA employee who speaks cryptically and sips Veuve Clicquot pretty much constantly, and Riva Cowling, Beth’s extremely successful and cutthroat daughter who is also an attorney. Riva, Deidre, and Andrea evolve into a loyal triumvirate of female strength, and it was gratifying to watch them work together to solve the mystery of the Harding family’s attackers.
The story unravels almost effortlessly, and keeps you guessing how everything is going to turn out. However, Powers uses a lot of the same vernacular throughout the book, regardless of which character is speaking, which makes it a bit difficult for the reader to follow, and also gives the feeling that the dialogue is forced.
Regardless, Bill Powers’ second installment of The Harding Family story is an engaging, fun, mystery thriller that serves as a wonderful break from the routine of everyday life. A perfect addition to your summer beach bag, The Torch is Passed tells the story of a tight knit family with roots in both New Jersey and North Carolina fighting to save the family business. With the help of the Harding’s lawyer-turned-extended family and southern connections made along the way, the Harding family deals with a life-altering crisis utilizing their greatest strength – each other.
Twisted Talk: Have you read any Harding Family stories? Are you a fan of Bill Powers? Discuss below!