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False Profits

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Thirty-year-old and recently divorced Tucker Sinclair is a management consultant competing for a partnership at Aames and Associates when her promising career is threatened by the assumption that she has inflated the figures on Dr. Milton Polk’s plan to develop NeuroMed. While she seems to have the support of her mentor and boss, Gordon Aames, she is essentially on her own since she has been put on administrative leave and must find the missing original prospectus in order to clear herself. When Polk’s body is found, she even becomes a murder suspect. In the course of breaking into Polk’s office, she discovers that she is being framed for insurance fraud. She also has to contend with her avaricious Aunt Sylvia, who wants to assume ownership of Sinclair’s beachfront home.

The intrepid would-be investigator tracks down those responsible for insurance fraud, crashes the party of a wealthy man Aames is trying to secure as a client, finds a murdered informant, is almost killed in a restroom, and recovers the missing prospectus. It is not until she has turned the prospectus over to Aames that she deduces that the “write off” written on a receipt is not a tax deduction, but the name of Aames’s boat. Aames, Polk’s killer, had been blackmailed about his involvement in the death of a maid, and attempts to kill Sinclair by throwing her overboard and leaving her to drown. She is saved, however, and the culprits are brought to justice. She then discovers that she and police officer Joe Deegan may have a future and resigns from the management firm.

The ending conveniently leaves the door open for the wise-cracking heroine with investigative potential to appear in other mystery stories.