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MURDER AND THE MASQUERADE by Dorothy Phaire

MURDER AND THE MASQUERADE

: Book 1 of the Dorothy Phaire Romantic Mystery Series

By Dorothy Phaire

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-44787-9

Two African-American women in the Washington, D.C., metro area face their middle-age struggles with love, family and murder charges in this empowering romantic thriller.

Dr. Renee Hayes seems to have everything–a lavishly decorated French Colonial house, a successful psychology practice and a popular series of self-help books. On the inside, however, she is just as troubled as any of her patients. One of these is Veda Simms, a suicidal paralegal who has estranged herself from her ex-husband and daughter as a result of her dangerous obsession with LaMarr Coleman, a crooked attorney at her law firm. At first, the patient and doctor seem to be the antithesis of each other (with the exception of a shared hairdresser). Veda is petty and self-absorbed, concerned only with what LaMarr thinks of her, while selfless Renee tends to an infant with AIDS in her off-hours. A series of seemingly unrelated crimes befall the two women, and Renee finds herself in the throes of a torrid affair with Deek, a young detective investigating the crimes, as a relief from her tepid marriage. At the end of her patience with LaMarr’s shady activities, Veda goes from a weepy mess of nerves to a wrathful ex. When both women are wrongfully charged with LaMarr’s gruesome murder, they begin to question their chosen paths. In this rewrite of her 2001 book Almost Out of Love, Phaire devotes a sizable chunk of the story solely to her characters’ biographies, giving the reader a detailed psychological portrait of the two women but occasionally hindering plot progression. Mystery and suspense take a back seat as chapter-long childhood flashbacks play out, drawing the reader deeper into the psyches of Veda and Renee.

Displays a knack for shaping round characters with rich and troubled pasts–sure to be a treat for armchair psychoanalysts and book clubs alike.