One thing I know for sure, Betting Blind author Lily Gardner is an authentic Portlander. Portland’s presence in Betting Blind is deep and authentic. The sense of place is powerful, the city sets the mood and it all rings true. The main character even says spendy instead of expensive or costly.

Lennox is a private investigator, dismissed from the Portland Police Bureau in disgrace and piecing her life back together. Some of her former colleagues are still her friends, aware that her firing while technically fair was plainly unjust. The gather for a weekly poker game where she cleans them out more often than not.

One of the gang, Fulin, a parole officer, does not show up for the game,  it turns out he’s been arrested and hires her to help find a parolee whose put the squeeze on him. Things go bottoms up and soon Lennox is investigating more than a missing parolee, but extortion and murder as well.

Interestingly one of the clues leads to Second Life® which is the only part of this mystery where Gardner goes astray. It is not just that Gardner revisits the usual sexual deviance tropes that people outside of Second Life concentrate on, but she has skin reddening, people glowering and flipping their hair in irritation.

The mystery follows all the fair play rules, there’s no secret clues and unknown, unseen reports. Lennox is a smart investigator and does not chase stupid red herrings. There are red herrings, of course, but they aren’t stupid ones.


I enjoyed Betting Blind and if Lily Gardner continues to write more Lennox Cooper mysteries, I will gladly read them. As a Portlander, I was pleased with her excellent, true to the city setting. As a Second Life resident, I had to roll my eyes a bit. Damn you, C.S.I. New York, you have much to answer for. The novel is fast-paced and the writing is disciplined and efficient. The main character, Lennox is a smart woman, competent and independent. I hope to read many more of her cases in the future.

I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley