"Feliz is strong at characterization...Details are endearing. A skillful amateur detective with an impressive to-do list emerges in this inventive series opener."– Kirkus Reviews
In Feliz’s (Dead Storage, 2017, etc.) murder mystery, amateur sleuth and professional organizer Maggie McDonald comes to the aid of her best friend, whom the cops suspect of murder.
Maggie’s skills as an organizer include prepping for emergencies—for example, the spreading wildfire in the vicinity of Silicon Valley, where her family’s home is located. But it turns out that her friend, real estate agent Tess Olmos, needs her even more. Tess’ husband, Patrick, initially appears to have died from an accidental fall. However, a bullet wound in his shoulder, among other signs, points to a violent assault. When police later find a gun on a workbench in the Olmoses’ garage, Tess becomes a person of interest. Maggie, however, is suspicious, as no one recalls seeing the gun there before. She’s been involved in murder investigations in the past (in previous installments of this series), and she embarks on a mission to clear her friend’s name, starting by questioning other suspects, including Tess’ assistant and Patrick’s running partner. Maggie has plenty of help, particularly from her cop pal, Jason Mueller, who’s not officially working on Patrick’s homicide case. But other troubles soon arise involving local drug cartels, and, later, Maggie’s two sons disappear—along with Tess’ son. Feliz’s mystery features myriad appealing characters, most of them returning from previous books in the series; Jason is an always-reliable ally, as is his war-veteran husband, Stephen. Even Maggie’s pets have distinct personalities—golden retriever Belle, for instance, repeatedly nudges people with her nose for comfort or attention. The mystery plot is lightweight, and Maggie’s suspicions of others seem based more on her own impressions than any real evidence. But the whip-smart amateur detective does show considerable skill, particularly when it comes to organizing; at one point, she wisely anticipates and prepares for neighbors arriving at the Olmoses’ home to support newly widowed Tess. And Maggie’s charm knows no bounds, even when she’s interviewing an especially loathsome man: “I squelched my desire to kick him in the shins, or worse.”
An enticing fourth series installment thanks to an engaging cast.
In this Bay Area cozy, a body in the freezer and a friend in jail throw a professional organizer’s life into disarray.
In Feliz’s (Scheduled to Death, 2017, etc.) latest Maggie McDonald mystery, Maggie again must clean up a murder mess, this time before she assists friends Stephen Laird and Jason Mueller in organizing and storing the couple’s stuff prior to a home remodel. Police detective Jason is out of state with a rapid-response team of officers the morning Maggie and Stephen are to meet at the home to strategize a packing plan. But when Maggie arrives, the always-punctual retired Marine isn’t there, and his beloved mastiff, Munchkin (who’s Maggie’s golden retriever’s BFF), eventually limps home solo, bloodied but able to recover. Maggie learns Stephen is in jail, charged with the murder of Mr. Xiang, whose body was discovered in the freezer of his restaurant. Cops found Stephen at the scene, wiping down tables. In Jason’s absence, Stephen will only talk to Maggie. She realizes he’s protecting Xiang’s employee, Rafi Maldonado, an undocumented teenager who was home-birthed in the U.S. The night of the murder, Stephen and Munchkin intervened when assailants were beating Rafi, only to be pounded themselves by the thugs who’d killed Xiang. Because he didn’t want Rafi connected to the murder, Stephen gave him his car keys and erased the teen’s fingerprints from the scene. Now, instead of systemizing toss/donate/keep piles, Maggie must prove Stephen is innocent and Rafi is legal. Perhaps one of the homeless people Xiang and Rafi regularly fed behind the restaurant witnessed the beatings? After previously solving murders in the series, recent transplants Maggie and her family are now mainstays in the upscale community filled with diverse, colorful characters. But now, with concern and compassion, Feliz has Maggie delve into the problems of homeless, poor, and immigrant populations. Yet in spite of societal concerns and murder, the tone of this well-written book is hopeful, occasionally playful. Feliz writes confidently, having done her homework on such things as immigration legal issues and even how to breeze through jailhouse metal detectors (carry your passport, keys; don’t wear jewelry, zippers, or an underwire bra).
Feliz again delivers a well-written, immensely likable story that can stand alone, although readers will want to read previous books in the series.
In this California-based cozy, a professional organizer sorts through suspects in the mysterious death of a client’s fiancee.
In Feliz’s (Address to Die For, 2016, etc.) second Maggie McDonald mystery, organizer Maggie is hired by Nobel-nominated Stanford professor Lincoln “Linc” Sinclair to declutter his large Victorian home. In an upstairs room of the messy house, there are more than stacks of papers for Maggie to contend with; there’s also a body. It belongs to Linc’s intended, Sarah Palmer. Clues suggest she’s been electrocuted. Phlegmy, dandruff-y detective Lt. Gordon Apfel (Maggie dubs him “Detective Awful”) believes it wasn’t an accident, and he homes in on Linc as the killer. Awful/Apfel is filling in on the police force for Maggie’s friend Detective Jason Mueller, sidelined with a broken leg. In a previous mystery, Jason, his husband, Stephen, and other locals helped Maggie crack an earlier case. The same crew backs her up in this equally good caper as she relies on her organizational skills to determine who might want to frame Linc for Sarah’s death. One possibility is Claire “Boots” Domingo. Boots runs the community garden that allegedly would acquire Linc’s property if he were to vacate it. Aside from a recent spate of suspicious deaths, the community Feliz has created is a loving, lively one populated by colorful, diverse characters who are funny (one asks, “Did you think I didn’t know any vulgar expressions? I was a middle-school principal, dear, not a hermit”) and charming, especially Maggie herself, who, when upset, doesn’t want to cry in front of her own golden retriever and Linc’s wolfhound because doing so would upset the dogs. Fans of Feliz’s first book as well as newcomers to the series won’t be disappointed.
An engaging but not complex mystery that moves forward quickly with freshness, a few surprises, and a couple of real scares.
An inherited dream house turns into a nightmare in this debut California mystery.
Professional organizer Maggie McDonald was led to believe her family’s newly acquired 100-year-old American Craftsman home was move-in ready. But there is a major issue in the basement: a dead body. If that isn’t enough to make the home anything but turnkey, there are also holes in floorboards, broken windows, and electrical issues. Two phone calls worsen the situation. The first, to Maggie’s husband, Max, is from his boss telling him to fly to Bangalore immediately. The second is from movers who report the family’s belongings won’t arrive until the next week. Maggie’s organizational skills are put to the test as she gets her sons enrolled in school, immerses herself in her new community, and deals with a house full of detectives and family pets (two cats and a golden retriever) but devoid of furniture. She also makes arrangements to make the home livable, though it’s subjected to ongoing vandalism. When she finds another body, her to-do list includes finding the killer in her tightknit community. Creepiness—a dead squirrel impaled on the porch, an electrical box rigged to catch fire—is well-captured in the novel, as is humor. Maggie is known to compensate with carbs when things go awry, and they often do (cookie-eating punctuates the book). Details are endearing: an older woman’s living room has a doorframe with the faded marks of a growth chart; the McDonalds use sign language to say “I love you.” Maggie’s kids are intriguing, and her new acquaintances eclectic. Feliz is strong at characterization; a strict principal is known for slapping shut the cover of her iPad, and a burly war veteran needs tissues to tell of rescuing a puppy from a dumpster (“I stuffed him in my shirt, fleas and all”). Breaking up the first-person narrative are emails between Maggie and India-based Max, and each chapter begins with a helpful planning suggestion From the Notebook of Maggie McDonald / Simplicity Itself Organizing Services, such as “Sometimes, life gets in the way, and there are other things far more important to attend to than being organized.” Indeed.
A skillful amateur detective with an impressive to-do list emerges in this inventive series opener.