Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts Book Review

Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts Book Review

Book Review by Debbie Winkler

Murder in a NIce Neighborhood by Lora Roberts Book Review

Series: Liz Sullivan Mystery Book 1
Author: Lora Roberts
Publisher: Fawcett Books (May 1994)
EAN: 9780449148914
Page Count: 211 pages
Format: paperback & ebook

Target Age Group: adults
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1

Synopsis:

Liz Sullivan was innocently enjoying a pear and a book when Pigpen Murphy accosted her. Liz could just never get it through to Pigpen that she wasn’t interested and never would be interested, bad smell notwithstanding. It is true that she had to be a little more forceful than usual, slamming the door shut on her home, her snug little VW bus, and Pigpen’s hand just happened to be in the way at the time, but was that any reason for him to smash a fist through her window? Things just got worse when Liz woke up to find a very dead Pigpen underneath her bus the next morning.

Detective Paul Drake obviously regarded Liz as his prime suspect and a strong flight risk, due to her highly mobile “house.” Liz greatly resented Detective Drake prying into her affairs and ripping apart her carefully constructed life in Palo Alto, CA. Liz liked living in the Bay area and didn’t want to move, but she knew that it would only be a matter of time before her abusive ex-husband would show up. Still, she couldn’t leave before the police investigation was cleared up, so Liz continued researching her new article, teaching a Senior Center Writer’s Workshop, swimming at the local pool and helping out the temporarily incapacitated Claudia Kaplan. However, as Liz continued to maintain her innocence, more bodies began to pile up with another vagabond and a sweet old lady being murdered in the same manner. And Liz was the last one reported to see them alive…

Review:

Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts was a thoroughly enjoyable mystery and a great start to the Liz Sullivan Mystery series. I found the main character to be very interesting and unique in that she was homeless and what most would consider a vagrant, but she led her life in a normal fashion and had a good reason for traveling around. I also loved her views of the other characters in the book and the author really seemed to have fun with certain stereotypes such as Claudia Kaplan, an author who still mourned her husband’s passing 10 years previously and was sharper than a tack; Vivien, a sweet, old, retired lady just barely making ends meet, but still determined to live out her life the way she wanted; Delores Mitchell, the all-too-perfect loan manager who never had a hair out of place and was just so much fun to tease; Ted, the ambitious real estate agent who was ready to pour on the charm, anytime, anyplace; and Paul Drake, the constantly disheveled detective who seemed like a bumbler, but was really a great investigator and a host of others. I enjoyed reading about the characters more than learning about the mystery, actually. I didn’t think the mystery was that difficult to solve and had suspicions pretty early on as to whodunit, but the book was still enjoyable and very well written. Recommended for fans of mysteries in the cozy genre.

Content:

This mystery contains descriptions of dead bodies, but nothing too detailed, graphic or gross. The main character fled an abusive relationship and fears her ex-husband will hunt her down so there is quite a bit of discussion of spousal abuse and fear in the book. Liz is also homeless so you learn quite a bit about the homeless community in central California. There is a touch of romance between the main character and the detective, as is usual in cozy mysteries, but this is very clean and doesn’t really get past the thought stage. Very little bad language and very clean. Recommended for ages 14 and up.

The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carl Book Review

The Chocolate Cat Caper (Chocoholic Mysteries #1) by Joanna Carl

Book Review by Debbie Winkler

The Chocolate Cat Caper (Chocoholic Mystery #1) by Joanna Carl

Series:Chocoholic Mysteries Book 1
Author: JoAnna Carl
Publisher: Signet Books (March 2002)
EAN: 9780451205568
Page Count: 240 pages
Format: paperback

Target Age Group: adult
My Rating: https://debbiewinkler.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/image_thumb82_thumb1_thumb17.png

Synopsis:

Lee McKinney has given up her career as a Texas trophy wife and moved back to the small town of Warner Pier, Wisconsin, where she spent the summers cashiering in her aunt’s TenHuis Chocolade shop. Lee is helping out her Aunt Nettie by working at the store and balancing the company books while studying for her CPA exam. She knows that the store, while doing well, needs all of the extra summer business it can get to stay profitable so when a large order comes over from Clementine Ripley, Warner Pier’s wealthiest and most hated resident, Lee urges her aunt to accept it regardless of her personal feelings on the matter.

Lee comes to regret this decision as Clementine Ripley dies the night of her party due to cyanide poisoning in the amaretto truffles that her Aunt Nettie provided. Things look even worse when Lee finds out that her Aunt Nettie blames Clementine Ripley for the death of her husband, which definitely provides her with a motive and she certainly had the means! But Lee quickly discovers that her Aunt Nettie was certainly not the only one who held a grudge against the infamous defense lawyer. There is Marion McCoy, Clementine’s personal assistant, who ran her life, but didn’t seem to really like her; Joe Woodyard, Warner Pier’s golden boy and the subject of Lee’s teenage crushes, the former Mr. Clementine Ripley who inherits the entire estate; the Police Chief, who retired to Warner Pier after Clementine Ripley ruined his career in the big city, but couldn’t escape her shadow; Mayor Hererra, who looked like a fool when Clementine Ripley backed out of her deal to sell her land to the city to build an observation facility; not counting the town’s notorious gossip Greg Glossop, Clementine’s slick and charming investment partner and every scumbag that Clementine Ripley kept out of jail…

Review:

The Chocolate Cat Caper is Book 1 in the Chocoholic Mysteries Series and it was cute and light, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Lee is a charming heroine, but she was pretty ditzy and, while her habit of saying the wrong word when she is nervous (which is often) was endearing and laugh-out-loud funny at times, she just isn’t very bright. She solved the mystery by being in all of the right places at the right times (or wrong places at the right times), but there was no real deduction on her part and her attempts to question other suspects in the murder were just laughable. The lack of mystery aside, the chocolate facts were entertaining and I liked reading about how they made the chocolate for the store and the other little details that the author put in. I will definitely check out the next book in the series, but I hope that it has a better mystery in it.

Content:

This is a cozy mystery, which means that it is not as hardcore as regular mysteries and there is not a lot of detail (police, autopsy, body condition when found, etc.) in regards to the dead person. There is little to no description of the actual body in regards to the murder and very little official police detail provided as the heroine is not at all involved with the police department. The plot deals with divorce, falling out of love, trophy wives and husbands, bribery, criminals escaping justice, and a callous defense attorney (the victim), but these topics are delivered and dealt with a great deal of humor and are just present as part of normal life. There is some potential romantic interest, but nothing happens. This mystery is very clean, very safe and is perfect for even the most squeamish of mystery readers. Recommended for ages 12 and up.