CLIFF HANGER by Mary Feliz

CLIFF HANGER

From the "Maggie McDonald Mystery" series, volume 5
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this fifth installment of a series, a professional organizer once again becomes embroiled in crime-solving when a family claims her teenage sons are responsible for a man’s death.

Maggie McDonald and her boys, David, 16, and Brian, 14, are ready for a summer at a Monterey Bay beach resort in California. Of course, Maggie is there to work, helping Renée Alvarez, the new manager of the condo complex where they’re staying. On the first day, David and Brian come to the aid of Jake Peterson, who’s injured after crashing his ultralight. They call 911; EMTs rush Jake to a hospital; and the teens become local heroes. But Jake doesn’t survive, and his parents respond with a lawsuit against David and Brian, claiming their untrained attempt to rescue the pilot ultimately caused his death. Consequently, Maggie looks into the ultralight accident, which is already suspicious, as Jake, an experienced pilot, regularly checked his aircraft. She gets assistance from her sons and husband, Max (when not working at his engineering job back home), along with a few friends. Not only could someone have sabotaged Jake’s propeller or fired a gunshot at him during flight, but criminal activity in the area suggests motives for his murder as well. And Maggie knows she’s on the right track when someone threatens her via text message. As in preceding volumes, Feliz’s (Disorderly Conduct, 2018, etc.) novel is light on mystery. Nevertheless, in this case, Maggie isn’t necessarily solving a murder; she’s trying to prove her sons’ innocence. This entails drumming up suspects in potentially unrelated crimes for any links to Jake. But what the story lacks in mystery, it more than makes up for in winsomeness. Maggie, for example, has an infectious, positive attitude and stays cool-headed when others are agitated. Her ever-present golden retriever, Belle, is a delightful sidekick. Descriptions of the canine often reflect the narrative’s low-key humor: Maggie seems to find solace in Belle “conked out for the night” near David and Brian, as the boys “were in good paws.”

Another outing bolstered by the endlessly appealing amateur gumshoe and her furry Watson.

Pub Date: July 16th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5161-0530-4
Page count: 215pp
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Program: Kirkus Indie
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