A criminology professor puts aside her own problems to find out what killed her mystery-writer mother.
At first it looks as if bestselling author Katherine March, whose body was found on her kitchen floor by longtime friend Helen Lewis, died of a heart attack. Then the lavish Christmas gifts arrive at her daughter Molly Patterson’s Houston home, accompanied by sentimental notes out of character for the self-centered Katherine, and it looks as if Katherine may have taken her own life to avoid a painful death from cancer. But the death, from an injection of Stelazine, a method taken straight from one of Katherine’s books, looks suspicious to Molly. So in spite of her separation from her husband Alex and a growing estrangement from their teenaged daughter, Annie, she makes the long trip to Austin over and over, talking to the neighbors in the posh neighborhood where she grew up lonely and isolated and ransacking her childhood home for clues. A thesis about her mother’s work, written by dedicated but slightly unbalanced graduate student Suzanne Lang, and an unpublished autobiographical novel provide Molly not only with leads, but with a better appreciation of the parent she hardly knew.
Stuyck (Fit to Die, 2006, etc.) puts first things first, producing a solid mystery enlivened but not overpowered by family drama.