Thursday, July 28, 2016

Address to Die For (A Maggie McDonald Mystery)

Author:  Mary Feliz
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback, Ebook
ISBN #:  9781601836649
Lyrical Underground
250 Pages
$15.00; $3.99 Amazon
July 19, 2016

Four Stars



For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge. But murder was definitely not on the to-do list . . .

Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn't confined to her clients' closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. As she lays out her plan to transfer her family to the hundred-year-old house her husband, Max, has inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she has every expectation for their new life to fall neatly into place. But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she's shocked to discover the house's dilapidated condition. When her husband finds the caretaker face-down in their new basement, it's the detectives who end up moving in. What a mess! While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large-exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can't help but clean up . . .     

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Maggie McDonald, her husband Max and their two sons, David and Brian have just moved from Stockton, California to Orchard View, near Silicon Valley.  While they are barely inside the door of the house, which was left to Max by his Aunt Kay, he stumbles across a body in the basement.  There's nothing for it but to spend a night or two in the barn (which, thankfully, has a bathroom and shower) while the police decide if it was natural causes.  But the house needs a lot of work until it's completely habitable, and before they can really settle in, Max is sent to India for his job, leaving Maggie and the boys to set things in order.

It's not too long before there's an act of vandalism on the property, and the police figure it's just kids and probably won't escalate.  Maggie, a professional organizer, is slightly daunted by all that lay before her, since it seems the house needs everything from the ground up - including appliances - but soon receives help from a woman she meets at a parents' meeting at her sons' school.  The friend, Tess, is a realtor, and knows nearly everyone in town, so getting the house cleaned and in order doesn't seem to be a problem - until there's another act of vandalism, and it seems to be escalating in violence.

But when another death occurs, it's not just Maggie who thinks the vandalism and the death could be connected, and finds herself dragged into an investigation of what's going on, whether she wants it or not.  Wanting to protect her children at all costs, and thinking that her family and her very home is in danger, Maggie ignores the warnings to 'go back to Stockton,' determined to figure out who is trying to get rid of them - and why.

When I began reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that our protagonist was a married mother of two, which is not the usual type in cozy mysteries - and by that I mean she is either single or divorced, a single mother, etc., and then was almost immediately disappointed when Maggie's husband Max is sent away on a business trip to another country leaving her - you guessed it - to solve a murder by herself.  Don't get me wrong; she has plenty of help from cops, friends, etc.; but Max is missing, which in effect puts her right back in the category of the women listed above.  Now I love those mysteries, so I'm not saying that's wrong.  I'm just saying that this book could have been a breath of fresh air and then it was as if someone up and closed the window...

Otherwise, I enjoyed the book for the most part, with the mystery well hidden until almost the end of the book, which is how it should be.  There were plenty of misleading clues, lots of suspects and questions that never really seemed to get answered, which showed Maggie's frustration in trying to figure everything out.  This is a very good thing.

But in the end I felt that at the conclusion of it all, the police should have been more aware of what was going on.  If the 'problem' as it were, was as widespread as we were told at the finish, you would think that the local authorities would have somehow been aware of something like that occurring.  It seemed plenty of other people knew what was going on (including kids) but not them.  Where I live, they would have been all over it.  Yet they admitted that they were completely unaware of it, which seemed unrealistic to me.  However, since this is a first book, I imagine the author is still finding her way, and because of that, it was otherwise a good read and a good start to a new series.  Recommended.


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