I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this: a light, almost cozy murder mystery featuring a female protagonist who's a 40 year old real estate agent.
Consider me enchanted. Mr. James has waltzed effortlessly into the mind of his main character, Amanda, with a depth and accuracy that had me wondering about his own gender. Amanda is a well rounded character with a strict Catholic upbringing from which she still suffers guilt and the occasional child-like retaliation, a too good to be true ex husband, and a new listing which boasts the added feature of a corpse in the living room.
While never a major suspect in the murder, the bad press causes Amanda to become an amateur sleuth in order to clear her name. Alex, her best friend - and gay ex-husband - comes riding in on the proverbial white steed to assist her investigation.
Amanda's search is logical, and she's always a few steps behind the police, which is refreshing. Far too many books seem to feature brilliant amateur sleuths who are leaps ahead of bumbling detectives. Her hi-jinks range from subtle to completely outrageous, but at no time feel unbelievable. Amanda's voice is fantastic, a well rounded, flawed human being that this reader would be happy to journey with again.
This story is about as sweet and fluffy as an adventurous murder mystery can get; you won't find a gritty underworld as such, or a great deal of gore. (Though the underhanded workings of real estate are presented brilliantly, and not every character is a good person.)
There are no great human revelations or discourses on the nature of man, no hidden depths; this is a book of pure fun and light reading. Perfect for the morning train commute, relaxing on the beach - though I wouldn't recommend it as a bathroom reader or an insomnia cure, as the characters are engaging and the mystery itself is a real page turner.
Buy it today.
Rachael Saltzman is a writer and filmmaker from New York with a love for horror and thrillers. Visit her at http://digitalisdreaming.blogspot.com/.