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SOMEBODY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Cover
BOOK REVIEW

SOMEBODY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

BY Judy Moore • POSTED ON Nov. 14, 2019

A woman moves into her late aunt’s Florida home but learns a killer may be lurking in the neighborhood in this murder mystery.

Dawn Andersen and her parents are understandably distraught over Aunt Amy’s murder in South Florida. But after the Ohio family heads to Amy’s cottage in Manatee Beach, 25-year-old Dawn thinks she’s found her new home. Her parents—who now own the house—reluctantly let her move in, especially because authorities have arrested the person they believe is Amy’s killer. Dawn quits her job in Columbus but isn’t even settled into her new home when she spots a hulking figure loitering in the vicinity. Later discovering that this person is her next-door neighbor does nothing to ease her anxiety. Unfortunately, it soon turns out the alleged murderer has an alibi, and police initially connect two other deaths with Amy’s, both before and after the homicide. As Dawn makes friends among Manatee Beach residents, as well as a potential enemy or two, she looks for answers in evidence as different as the “mysterious man” in her aunt’s life and a possible link between Amy and at least one of the other victims. Most disturbing of all, however, is the likelihood that the murderer is someone in the small Florida community. Moore (Murder at the Country Club, 2018, etc.) excels at character development. Dawn is a smashing protagonist who’s trusting but not naive and who doesn’t abide insolence, including that of the postal carrier who litters his discourse with sexist epithets, such as “girlie.” But the neighborhood comprises numerous well-rounded characters, making it all the more difficult for readers to identify the killer. A subplot involving someone in a (probable) romance with Dawn isn’t fully developed, although this hardly affects the solid mystery. Moore’s pithy writing ably couples the small-scale setting with an often moody environment. For example, tension rises in the final act, which unfolds during an impending—and then full-blown—storm, complete with a power failure and resultant darkness.

Robust characters populate a crafty and entertaining whodunit.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-70789-975-3

Page count: 428pp

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

THE MOTHER-IN-LAW Cover
BOOK REVIEW

THE MOTHER-IN-LAW

BY Judy Moore • POSTED ON Sept. 2, 2017

A newlywed discovers her mother-in-law has a dangerous secret agenda.

Victoria Verducci wasn’t looking for love when she traveled to Las Vegas for a five-week training program. She lives in San Diego, where she works at a top investment firm. At the start of the program, she meets the handsome and attentive Brad Reynolds, an employee of the firm’s office in North Florida. A widower, he is raising his 5-year-old son, Andy, with the help of his mother, Madeline. After a whirlwind courtship, the couple elopes in Vegas. Victoria transfers to the Florida office, moves to Brad’s hometown of Jacksonville, and quickly bonds with Andy. Her relationship with Madeline is another matter. Madeline, ever rigid, expects the family to follow her rules: dinner at 6:30 every night and no TV. She continually finds fault with Victoria and her parenting style. Uncomfortable with the tension, Victoria wants to find a new home with Brad and Andy, but warnings from a neighbor and unsettling discoveries about Madeline’s and Brad’s past lead her to wonder how far Madeline is willing to go to maintain control over her son and grandson. Moore’s (Murder at the Country Club, 2018, etc.) latest is a fast-paced, compulsively readable mystery with strong characters and well-drawn settings. Victoria is a sympathetic lead, and Madeline is a cunning and elusive antagonist—a woman whose icy perfection and strict adherence to a complex set of rules mask subtle attempts to undermine Victoria’s marriage and relationship with her new stepson. While the novel is set in sunny Florida, the family drama at the heart of the story is worthy of a gothic novel, and the Reynolds family home is an important part of the setting. Victoria is expecting an open and airy beach house; instead, she finds a dark, formal home with ornate furnishings. This home plays a key role in many of the story’s most suspenseful scenes, and Moore’s keenly observed descriptions (“With these furnishings, if you weren’t looking out the window, you would never guess you were at the beach”) add to the fun.  

A sharply written, suspenseful domestic thriller.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-976080-60-9

Page count: 368pp

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

MURDER IN VAIL  Cover
BOOK REVIEW

MURDER IN VAIL

BY Judy Moore • POSTED ON Sept. 26, 2016

Spending the holidays with family can be murder in Moore’s (Murder at the Country Club, 2018, etc.) contemporary cozy mystery.

Sally Braddock has been a widow for six years, and she lives on a 17-acre estate that’s so high up in the mountains above Vail, Colorado, that there’s no cellphone service. Now in her late 50s, she keeps in shape by swimming daily in her outdoor pool, regardless of the weather. Her businessman husband left her more than $3 billion and three spoiled, grown children. All the 30-something kids claim poverty, despite their multimillion-dollar trust funds, due to extravagant purchases (daughter Gwen owns an armada of luxury boats), ill-advised investing (son Lance funds movies for his actress/centerfold wife, Yvette), or snorting cocaine and gambling (favorite child Stephen is just out of rehab). Encouraged by their spouses, the siblings all ask Sally for more money during their annual Christmas visit. Upset, she screams that she plans to give 95 percent of her money to a charitable foundation. Her only true friend seems to be her devoted live-in housekeeper, Helga. After a winter storm knocks out the phone lines and internet service and blocks the road, one of the Braddocks is murdered—but was the deceased the intended victim? The next night brings another attack as well as news that someone has gone missing. Moore offers several twists and red herrings over the course of the novel, and she populates the well-paced mystery with a slew of imperfect characters. There are a few bits of characterization that readers may find difficult to believe, such as Gwen’s paying $50,000 for a purple purse. However, Moore’s depiction of the shadowy Helga is reminiscent of that of Daphne du Maurier’s Mrs. Danvers in the classic novel Rebecca. The book’s swimming and skiing scenes, which turn out to be crucial to the plot, benefit from the fact that the author is a former sportswriter: “The next run they tackled wasn’t as long, but it had a lot of challenging moguls. Gwen slowed down a bit, trying to figure out better ways to maneuver over the undulating hills.”

An often clever mystery about a dysfunctional family going downhill.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5390-3850-4

Page count: 282pp

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2019

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE

Christmas Interrupted

The holidays are always the joyous, family-filled occasions that we expect. Sometimes problems arise. Here are three separated stories about Christmases that went awry. Airport Christmas Getting snowed in on an airport layover during Christmas would be a terrible experience for most people. But for thirteen-year- old Jack, twelve-year- old Ethan, and eleven-year- old Lily, it’s the adventure of a lifetime. Traveling by themselves from their mother’s house in San Diego to their father’s in Florida, the kids learn to fend for themselves as well as bring some Christmas cheer – and even love – to other stranded passengers. The Holiday House Sitter A recent graduate of UCLA, Molly McAlister has just landed her first job and loves it. The problem is her demanding boss, who seems to think he’s in charge of her free time too. Under threat of layoff, her boss manipulates her into giving up Christmas with her family in Florida to pet-sit his two beloved purebred poodles. When Molly arrives at his house in Santa Monica a few days before Christmas, she learns she must also watch two ill-tempered Rottweilers, Darth and Vader, who scare her to death. His hypercritical wife seems to think Molly is a maid too, and leaves her a long list of chores and rules. Molly’s expecting to have a miserable Christmas, but things start to look up when she meets the boy next door and his family. Unfortunately, they’re embroiled in a neighborhood feud with her boss. The Hitchhiker on Christmas Eve It’s Christmas Eve, and Renee is a mess. She has barely slept or eaten for two weeks. Her hair is ratted, her eyes are puffy and bloodshot, and her clothes are filthy. In the throngs of an anxiety attack, she decides to commit suicide by jumping off a nearby bridge, though the thought of it terrifies her. As she drives toward the bridge through the Virginia countryside, she considers driving into an oncoming cement truck. But at the last moment, she can’t do it. Then, she sees a dark, foreboding man hitchhiking. On a whim, she stops and picks him up. What does it matter anyway? But she immediately regrets her decision. Who is the intimidating, tattooed hitchhiker – and what are his plans for her?

Murder at the Country Club

Mandy Carter, the pretty 18-year-old cart girl, is found buried in a sand trap at an upscale country club in New England. Who clubbed her to death … and why? That’s the question haunting Detective Abby Sanders, whose own teenage daughter looks so much like the victim they could have been sisters. A former competitive golfer herself, Abby quickly lets the country club crowd know that no one is above suspicion.
Published: Jan. 22, 2018
ISBN: ISBN-10: 1985242656 ISBN-13: 978