Catherine O'Connell

When: Tue., June 9, 3-5 p.m. 2009

O'Connell signs her latest mystery, Well Read and Dead, at a tea service with live harp music. Poor Pauline Cook. After an amorous yacht cruise from Portofino to Greece, followed by a sojourn in Paris, the widowed Chicago socialite (51 but still fetching) learns that her portfolio is down 90 percent due to the Enron implosion. She returns to her Gold Coast penthouse posthaste to sort out her affairs—the ones involving money, anyway. When she tries to retrieve her beloved cat, Fleur, from gal pal Whitney, she finds that Fleur has gone missing. And so has Whitney. Whitney's distraught husband, megawealthy lingerie mogul Jack Armstrong, offers Pauline $5 million to find his wife. See, he doesn't want the cops involved. Because Whitney used to be a man. With a drug problem. Pauline's leery, but with her fortune at a mere $2 mil ("Hardly enough to live on!"), she agrees. That's the setup for Catherine O'Connell's guilty-pleasure mystery. Her characters are well-read (snippets of Shakespeare, Marvell, and Pope are shamelessly dropped), and several end up dead as Pauline discovers that some of the glitterati got glittery doing dirty deeds. Though all does not end well, the ride's fun, as O’Connell skewers the pomposities of the ultrarich for laughs. And while Pauline ultimately learns that money doesn't buy happiness, well . . . continuing the pursuit isn't so wrong, is it? Take this one to the beach. —Jerome Ludwig

Price: $55 includes a signed copy of the book

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