Private investigator Emma Howe's hiring of young Billie August 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 the difficulty of working under Emma, they were slowly coming to respect one another.
Now they are faced with two cases of more than the routine surveillance of suspected insurance fraud perpetrators. A young man of deficient mental ability has been accused of the murder of a woman who had befriended him on their daily jogging route. Emma has handed this case to Billie; the evidence against him is convincing and she has no hope that the younger woman can come up with anything new, but the youth's mother is willing to pay, so let Billie handle it. Emma herself takes on another case that seems 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 case will come up with anything helpful, but both the youth's mother and the adopted woman are anxious to try, and the fees will pay the month's rent at least.
If either detective could extract information from the frightened young man, it would be gentle Billie rather than impatient Emma, who has a tendency to bully. 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 two 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, however, almost too late, is that the secrets they are uncovering are leading them into peril of their own lives.
Original title: Whatever Doesn't Kill You
Genre: Fiction→ Crime and Mystery→ Detective Story and Detectives→ Private Detective