CARPOOL by Mary Cahill


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 Erma Bombeck meets Angela Lansbury with unfortunate results in this suburban mystery featuring a carpooling mom, a dead farmer, a stone-faced Indian detective, and an assortment of aimlessly adulterous bit players--all manipulated with amateurish enthusiasm by this veteran carpooler and first-time Baltimore writer. The schedule is clipped to the car's visor with a clothespin: swim practice, breakfast, kindergarten drop-off, elementary-school drop-off, high-school drop-off, SaveMart, shoe repair, lunch at Wendy's with the girls, then pick-ups, after-school activities, dinner, and bed. Jenny Meade, once a pilot and co-owner of her own medical-transport business, has been reduced by marriage and childbearing to life in a Honda hatchback, daydreaming between jaunts of long-gone adventures in a Piper Cherokee and engaging in conversation with her dog. Much maligned by her children and ignored by her husband, Jenny finds relief when she discovers an apparent suicide in a graveyard near her daughter's school and can occupy her mind with suspicions of foul play. The detective on the case--morose, deadpan Thomas Black Cloud--asks the roadbound housewife to keep an eye out for clues. This is all the encouragement Jenny needs: while speeding across the suburban-rural countryside, she not only solves Cloud's case but manages also to resolve her marital problems, reestablish her former career, solve the lingering mystery of her own parents' death a decade earlier, and learn--difficult as it is--to leave the driving to others. Cahill stumbles repeatedly in her eagerness to seduce the reader--a failed effort, though likely to engage the sympathies of other carpoolers across the country.

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-679-40477-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991