(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In her previous Regan Reilly mystery novels, including Fleeced (2001) and Twanged (1998), Carol Higgins Clark created colorful characters and locations. Jinxed, the sixth in the series, does not disappoint. This time, Regan and her lover Jack “no relation” Reilly happen on a mystery while vacationing in California’s Napa Valley.

Ninety-something legendary film actress Lucretia Standish has made a fortune buying and selling Internet stock, thanks to advice from Edward Fields, less than half her age. Before she makes Edward her sixth husband, she wants to meet the relatives of her late fifth husband, Weldon. It was Weldon’s money that Lucretia invested, and she wants to share her fortune with his nieces and nephews, former hippies Lilac, Earl and Leon, and with Lilac’s daughter Freshness.

Lilac, Earl, and Leon run Altered States, a combination bed and breakfast/meditation center/winery. Freshness, who prefers the name Whitney, has embarked on an acting career. Lucretia invites her relatives to her wedding, just two days away, and offers each of them two million dollars if they will all attend. Whitney, however, has gone off to clear her head, leaving no hint of her plans, and Regan is hired to get her to the church on time.

Meanwhile, Lucretia’s intended is interested only in her money, and he kidnaps Whitney to keep her from the wedding. Everyone eventually ends up at the Altered States—Lucretia (protected by a motorcycle gang), the kidnapper, his victim, two ninety-six-year-old friends, the media, the detectives—and everyone is properly rewarded or punished.

While Jinxed does not offer much suspense, neither does it offer so much as a thrown punch or a bullet. Villains may threaten violence but they never actually commit any. As for the rest of the characters, they are quirky and charming and they all find love in the end.