"MURDERED, MY SWEET" by Joan Lowery Nixon


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An overweening mother who's meant to be scatterbrained and a murder that never matters are at the center of this clichâ-filled mystery from Nixon (Search for the Shadowman, 1996, etc.). Jenny Jakes and her mother, the famous mystery writer Madeline Jakes, are in San Antonio for a visit: A distant cousin, billionaire Arnold Harmony, plans to celebrate his birthday by having his will read aloud to the beneficiaries. His plans are interrupted when his son, Porter, is murdered at the hotel. Madeline's fans believe she can crack the case, but Jenny knows better: Her dithery mother considers herself an expert on the criminal mind, but can't figure out a mystery she didn't create. Instead, Jenny solves the murder, always careful to credit Madeline as the sleuth. The premise of Jenny's covering for her mother is funny, but it goes so smoothly that it becomes boring; when the murder is reported in the newspaper, Jenny's bell-hop romantic interest, Carlos, also ensures that the story spins Madeline's way. Nixon treats the San Antonio setting as a place readers know, dropping names without describing the place; meanwhile, the characters simply chase around inside the hotel. For savvy mystery-lovers, the detective work is sloppy: The murder scene isn't sealed off, the real detective puts up with contemptuous witnesses, and he allows Madeline (and Jenny and Carlos) in on his investigation. That no one thinks to protect Logan, a character who announces that he knows all and is then murdered, is irresponsible.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
Page count: 212pp
Publisher: Delacorte