Friday, February 8, 2019

Murder on Memory Lake (A Ferrara Family Mystery #1)

Author:  J.D. Griffo
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496713940; 9781977359322
Kensington Publishing
334 Pages
$5.86; $26.20; $5.99 Amazon
July 31, 2018


Alberta Scaglione's spinster aunt had some secrets - like the fortune she squirreled away and a secret lake house in Tranquility, New Jersey.  More surprising: she's left it all to Alberta.  Alberta, a widow, is no spring chicken and she's gotten used to disappointment.  So having a beautiful view, surrounded by hydrangeas, honeysuckle, and her cat, Lola, sounds blissful after years of yelling and bickering and cooking countless lasagnas.

But Tranquility isn't as peaceful as it sounds.  There's a body in the water - and it belongs to Alberta's childhood nemesis.  Alberta suspects foul play and when Alberta's estranged granddaughter, an aspiring crime reporter, shows up, it only makes sense for them to team up and investigate...


Alberta Scaglione hasn't had an easy life.  She was married to a man who didn't love her, and her only daughter fights with her constantly - which culminates in her daughter moving out of state to get away with her.  She's a 64-year-old widow who doesn't have much in life - until a spinster aunt leaves her over three million dollars and a lakefront home in Tranquility, New Jersey.  Now she's enjoying her chance to relax and live her life the way she wants.

At least she was, until a body floats on the lake in front of her.  It turns out to be an old enemy from school, and when Alberta notifies the police, she's convinced the woman was murdered.  They don't believe her until after the autopsy report, and she decides to leave it at that.  But when her granddaughter arrives in Tranquility, things change.  Jinx's personality is like her grandmother's, but she's trying to make it as a reporter.  She's tired of fluff pieces and wants to investigate the murder.  When her editor tells her no, she convinces Alberta to help her, and along with Alberta's sister Helen and sister-in-law Joyce, they try and figure out who killed the woman.  But will it bring Jinx the new job or just danger?...

This is the first in a new series and I really wanted to like this book.  Sadly, it pretty much lost me at the beginning by showing me that Alberta isn't the 'nice' woman she's supposed to be.  A relative - the one who eventually leaves her money - is in a nursing home and she repeatedly whispers to her, "Just go already.  There is nothing left for you here, so just die for Crise sake."  Does that sound like a warm, loving woman?  Especially since the hearing is the last to go and the woman heard every word?  I remember when I lost my father, and I spent my time telling him how much I loved him.  It still breaks my heart to this very day.

Anyway, she's a nasty human being; what she said notwithstanding, she was constantly arguing and yelling at her daughter and the author tells us that because it's what they've always done we're just supposed to shrug our shoulders and think this is fine.  Sorry, but this is not acceptable behavior and it's abusive.  No wonder her daughter moved away.

Then her granddaughter convinces her that breaking and entering is an acceptable way to get information and clues to the murder, so she decides to go ahead with it, knowing it's illegal.  I've never liked it when characters do that, mainly because the person who isn't supposed to be home always shows up (in this I wasn't disappointed).

I was disappointed, however, that the characters were so stereotypical - right down to spouting Italian at every opportunity.  Not only is Alberta nasty and mean, her sister Helen, an ex-nun, throws insults around like a Frisbee; and the sister-in-law sure likes her liquor - having no problem drinking first thing in the morning.  What a fun group of people.

In the end, I didn't find the "collection" interesting, and the characters just grated on me, which made me skim through the end of the book.  Sorry, but I won't be reading any more in this series.


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