Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Smart But Dead (An Aggie Mundeen Mystery)

Author:  Nancy G. West
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781943390281; 9781493390250
Henery Press Publishing
246 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $4.99
November 17, 2015

Four Stars

Skirting forty and appalled by the prospect of descending into middle-age decrepitude, Aggie Mundeen blasts off to the local university to study the genetics of aging.  In addition to providing youthful hints for readers of her column, "Stay Young with Aggie," Aggie is doggedly determined to stay young.  Despite conflicts with her professor, she learns about the Human Genome project and DNA.  When she discovers a dead body, Detective Sam reminds her not to "help" with the investigation.  But dangerously curious and programmed to prod, she races to solve the crime, winds up the prime suspect, and is on target to become the next campus corpse. 

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Aggie Mundeen lives in San Antonio, Texas, and writes a newspaper column, "Stay Young with Aggie."  She's terrified of getting older, and is constantly looking for ways to maintain her youth.  In this vein, she is taking a college class about the Human Genome project and DNA.  But after asking questions one day in class, her professor, Kermit Carmody, drops dead.  She becomes suspicious that he might have been murdered, and decides to solve the case on her own, because she thinks it will make Detective Sam Vanderhoven, the object of her affections, realize he can't live without her.

First off, Aggie doesn't seem to realize she's thirty-nine, hardly even close to a rocking chair.  She also has a limited amount of self-esteem, thinking if she ages Sam won't even be interested in her.  What she fails to realize is that she's independent and successful.  Aggie never seems to come to terms that perhaps what she needs is to figure out why she thinks the way she does, even when others in the story (including Sam) point things out to her.  Happiness can't be found with another person until you find the happiness within yourself.

But I digress:  After her professor dies, Aggie is sure he was murdered - she just doesn't know how.  So she sets about thinking of ways to find out the killer, and more importantly, what it was that got him killed.  Aggie is sure it has something to do with his research into anti-aging.  But who?  She becomes suspicious of everyone in the class, and everyone he worked with.

So much so, that she goes around actively seeking people and asking them questions - just until they begin to get suspicious, then she backs off.  Even when Aggie is attacked one night, she not only doesn't tell Sam what happened, she doesn't stop investigating...and finally it leads to the fact that she discovers another dead body, and is accused of burglary and murder and booked into jail.  But does this stop our intrepid Aggie?  No.  The minute she's released, she decides she wants to find out who killed the second person, and clear herself of the crime.

It seems Aggie has an uncanny ability to put herself in all manner of eventful situations that aren't healthy to her.  For someone who's interested in anti-aging, she seems to be going into things that can age a person pretty fast.  Yet, as we know, all will come about in the end, and the murderer will be found.  But after that...does Aggie finally get the response from Sam that she's looking for?  You'll have to read the book to find out; there are some things I just won't tell...  Recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/SMART-BUT-DEAD-Nancy-West/dp/1943390282/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1543139379

More on Nancy G. West's books:  http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/w/nancy-g-west/ 

                                                   

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