Maggie Hill's life has become temporary. Her marriage was temporary, her jobs are temporary, and if work doesn't pick up, her time in California might be temporary, too. Her latest employer is Ellis Kenilworth, an aging coin expert with a first-rate collection and a tenth-rate family. One morning, he has Maggie type up a codicil to his will, changing the document so that his million-dollar rare-coin collection goes not to his kin, but to a woman named Claire Conrad. By the end of the day, the codicil has vanished, and Kenilworth has killed himself with a shotgun.
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As elegant, enigmatic private eye Claire Conrad and her very independent assistant Maggie Hill prepare to fly to L.A., a young woman appears at their hotel bearing an unusual message: a legendary fashion model who died recently did not commit suicide. When the messenger is stabbed to death, Claire and Maggie decide to stay in New York to further investigate her claim.