Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Trade, 258 pages, 2005
Reason for Reading: The ‘hearing voices’ premise almost scared me away, but I decided to go for it because I’ve heard Carr is a good writer.
Synopsis: Anne Johnson is settling down into a lazily cozy existence – she’s fifty, living alone in a plush apartment following her recent divorce, and she feels little need to do much beyond drinking martinis and wafting around her apartment in white nightgowns. But then she hears a voice in her head warning her that she needed to halt a murder that will occur in her apartment building in thirty days. She enlists the help of Mary, a no-nonsense cleaning woman, and together they decide to plan a party to use as an opportunity to learn more about possible suspects. They’re quickly learning that finding a suspect is hard to do before a crime has been committed, but there’s too much riding on them to quit now.
Why you should read this book: Anne Johnson is flat-out awesome in the role of accidental-detective – she’s warm, funny, goofy, and honest, and she’s bravely walking down a path towards change in her life. Along with the upcoming murder, Anne’s mind bounces comically between longing to sleep with Ivan, a Russian sex-god, and trying to talk herself out of lusting after a man twenty years her junior. While the first part of the book will have you laughing at loud at Mary and Anne, you’ll finish off the last fifty pages in a state of high anxiety that will keep you precariously perched on the edge of your seat. The action scenes are especially great because of the clarity Carr writes with – even while reading at a break-neck speed so that you can find out what happens next, the story is easy to follow because it’s well-written. For fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series – picture Stephanie and Lula twenty years older, twenty years wiser, and with the writing quality bumped up a few notches. Highly recommended for people in pursuit of both fun and suspense.
Why you should avoid this book: My Very Own Murder isn’t exactly a goofball sort of mystery, but it’s certainly not full of reason, evidence, or police work, so it wouldn’t work if you want a cop/detective sort of thriller. My Very Own Murder is for the reader interested in character development over forensics and go-go-go action.
As a requirement of the newly divorced, only-just-fifty-year-old woman, I was supposed to be miserable, yet brave. After all, women of my age and situation knew they would either die alone or remarry a man twenty years their senior. Which is to say, seventy years and, possibly, older. Nothing wrong with a seventy-year-old man, other than bandy legs and no hair. I mean, no hair anywhere. Anywhere. But, no, to the disappointment of my friends and family, particularly my ex-husband, I was not miserable. Therefore, I had no requirement to be brave, either.
In the excitement of the haircut, then shopping, and dining at Petits Plats, I’d forgotten about Lagos’s reference to a murder at the Kennedy ten years ago. The swimming pool and fitness center were located in the new addition, completed only a year ago, so I didn’t expect to get any ghostly vibes underwater. But I wondered whether the voice warning me of a murder in one month was really, somehow, from the past. I knew enough about physics in my reading of recent books like The Fabric of the Cosmos about how time and space really work. The voice definitely didn’t belong to Ivan, though it had a foreign accent. Whoever it was tried to disguise its thick timbre and deep nature by pitching it high. He said, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself, you dirty little girl.’ I laughed straight into the phone. I thought it was such a stupid thing to say. I mean, okay, I knew he meant to be threatening and scary. But, please.
Also recommended: Watch Your Back by Donald E. Westlake; Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich; Chopping Spree by Diane Mott Davidson.
Also by this author: The Dewey Decimal System of Love
Author’s website: josephinecarr.com
Fun tidbit: Carr states on her website that her goal in writing is “to make you laugh and, thus, to manipulate you into seeing your world and your self with new eyes.”
Would I read more by this author? I definitely want to hear more from the characters in My Very Own Murder.
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007