The Girl With the Phony Name (1992) by Charles Mathes, St. Martin’s Press
I have bought this book from BookSale many years ago and have left it here in Moncada. After cleaning our provincial house and settled in, I found this book among my things I’ve left behind.
Lucy MacAlpin Trelaine works as an inspector for a small hotel chain. She checks the different branches if they follow the hotel’s standards and reports them to her boss. This job allows Lucy to travel and at the same time research about her past.
All she has is her phony name: Lucy MacAlpin Trelaine. She is an orphan and grew up in foster homes. She failed at Harvard and keeps on changing jobs. She hopes that this job will be her longest employment. Unfortunately, she was retrenched by management due to a corporate buyout.
After returning her company-provided car, she reads an ad that a law firm is looking for her. She responds immediately. She then receives an “inheritance” from a woman who stole a brooch. It is a Celtic brooch that has her phony name engraved on it. Lucy MacAlpin Trelaine is not phony after all. Lucy is now full of hope and can start looking about her parents’ past history with this physical clue.
After looking for MacAlpins and Trelaines in all phone books that she could grab (only to find they’re dead end clues), she finally receives a call from someone named Robert MacAlpin claiming to be her father. Lucy is so excited to meet her “father” and brought the brooch with her. But after a short physical struggle between Lucy and Robert, the latter fell to his death.
With the brooch as a clue, Lucy. together with Tak Wing — a Chinese entrepreneur who owns a funeral parlor and Lucy’s new employer — finds herself going from Weehawken, New Jersey to Scotland in disguise. There, she has to look for other clues that will bring her to her real family.
I like the book because it’s light and cozy for a mystery story. It gave me a bit of Scotland’s history and scenery.
I can relate to Lucy’s character. For one, I’m adopted and I don’t know who my biological parents are. For another, I’m stubborn like Lucy.
I also love Tak Wing’s character. Despite his entrepreneurial guts, his generosity and philosophy is genuine. He’s the voice of reason for Lucy in this story.
I just wish that the relationship between Lucy and Mike Fraser was fleshed out more.
Although the prologue explained how Lucy became an orphan, the succeeding chapters did not fully explain what happened to the couple who took Lucy. I found them interesting characters as well.
I just learned that Charles Mathes, the author, is an art dealer and his “The Girl” series starts with this book, The Girl With The Phony Name. However, unlike other series, each book features a different heroine and an art piece.
Overall, I’m giving this book 3 out of 5 stars.