FOLLOWING POLLY by Karen Bergreen


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In her debut as a novelist, Bergreen attempts a comic murder mystery cum romance about a young woman who comes under suspicion when the semi-celebrity she’s been stalking is murdered.

Despite her Harvard pedigree, her great looks and a pitch-perfect memory for details that would make her an ideal private eye, 32-year-old Manhattanite Alice is a self-proclaimed sad sack without professional ambition or a love life—she has had a crush on a man she’s called Charlie since college even though he doesn’t know she exists. Within hours after Alice is fired from her latest job, she begins to follow Polly, a woman she has hated and envied since their student days. Always the golden girl, as well as stereotypical mean girl, Polly is now married to a famous movie director and heads her own wildly successful lingerie company. For weeks Alice trails Polly to various appointments, some obviously trysts, and finally into a boutique dressing room where she finds Polly’s dead body. Soon Alice is a suspect on the lam. In desperation she turns to Charlie (real name Walter) whom she has seen in a restaurant talking to one of the policemen on her trail. A lawyer, Charlie/Walter has been trying to clear his father’s name after a scandal. With his legal and her instigative skills, they work together to prove that both innocent parties are blameless. It’s no surprise when romance blooms. Meanwhile, the murderer strikes again, killing Alice’s former boss, a casting director deeply involved in the movie Polly’s husband has been directing. The author loads her story with a jarring mix of comic and melodramatic details, from Alice’s blind date with Walter/Charlie’s father to her life among the homeless to the dated, bordering on homophobic, motive given to the murderer. 

Although Bergreen is a professional comedian, the humor falls flat while the mystery lacks punch because neither the characters nor the author seem to take it seriously.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-57109-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2010