Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Review: Candy, Corpses, and Classified Ads

 If you like murder mysteries with a dash of something else tossed in for that extra 'je ne sais quoi' then JL Wilson is an author you'll enjoy. When I began reading this book, I was surprised that the romantic leads in this entertaining tale of murder, mayhem, and more hilarious mishaps were not quite your standard 'youth and beauty' objects of desire. The heroine is well past her first blush and the hero, while still attractive, cannot be called youthful. (Well, neither can George Clooney and he's still gorgeous!) Curious, I read up more on the author and discovered why she has created this kind of romantic suspense for a slightly older (or should I say mature) reader.

In her own words, JL Wilson says: "I was born in a small town in Iowa, and have traveled extensively in the U.S. and overseas, finally ending up back in the Midwest where I'm married to a glass artist who spends a lot of time in the studio, making amazingly beautiful things. We have assorted animals who live with us and who make regular appearances in my books under various pseudonyms (they know who they are). In 2003, I read my first romance novel and immediately decided this was the genre for me. But there was a problem: the books I read all featured young heroines, interested in starting a family and having babies. So I started writing romantic suspense (with an occasional side trip into paranormal fantasy) about older women, with some age on 'em, who are interested in men and sex and having a good relationship (which may or may not include a marriage). I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy writing about them."

It seems that mature romance is finding its place both in novels and in the cinema (Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in Harvey and Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in It's Complicated) and people are loving it.

This intriguing romantic suspense novel involves a potbellied pig, Melvin, a septic tank, a pitchfork, and Molly Lawson’s dead (murdered!) ex-husband. Could things get worse for Margaret Olivia Lawson, since the police officer investigating the case is none other than the deliciously still attractive JT McCord, who jilted her eighteen years ago? JT McCord has returned to Tangle Butte as Chief of Police. Candy-loving Molly, now the News Editor of the Tangle Butte Daily Tribune, finds herself in an invidious position.


After JT ditched her for someone else, Molly moved on to marry twice… except that her first husband, Delbert, died and her second husband, Sam, ran off with a hairdresser, or so everyone thought. Molly has given up on romance but finds that her resolve is somewhat shaken by JT’s reappearance in Tangle Butte.

By helping JT with the case, and trying to prove she is not the Number One suspect in her ex-husband’s murder, she finds that old attractions die hard and her original feelings for JT soon resurface … just like her ex-husband Sam Ferris’ body! Our feisty heroine finds murder on her doorstep, under the living room window, to be exact, and when Molly’s life is threatened several times, things turn downright dangerous.

The problem is that when Sam’s body resurfaced, with a little help from Melvin, the pot-bellied pig with a penchant for digging up flowerbeds, so did some past dirty financial deeds committed by the less-than-honest inhabitants of the town. Tangle Butte, population 4,145, isn’t a hotbed of passion, or greed, or power... or is it?

The author accurately paints an often hilarious picture of small-town life interspersed with sex, murder, gossip, copious amounts of M&Ms, alarmingly accurate Tarot card readings, cryptic romantic classified ads and, it seems, quite a lot of adultery. As the investigation progresses, old hurts, memories, and grudges are exposed. Lost loves, affairs, financial shenanigans, and possible motives for murder abound.

Molly, a budding crime novelist with three murder mysteries under her belt and a fourth in the making, finds that she is in more danger than she suspected. Sam wasn’t quite the louse everyone thought he was, and when it’s discovered that poison, and not a pitchfork, was the weapon of choice, the net starts to tighten on a guilty member of the Tangle Butte community. Will JT make the arrest before Molly meets an unfortunate end?

J. L. Wilson has created appealing, believable characters in Molly and JT. They are a tad older than in a usual romantic suspense novel, but still desirous of love and passion. The quirky secondary characters, especially Molly’s mother, Yolanda, are well fleshed-out and add piquancy to this exciting murder mystery.

A well-paced plot and realistic dialogue show that the author has an excellent grip on what makes a small town tick. A particularly amusing note is the local book club, Monday Readers Social Exchange, (known to its members as ‘Mr. Sex’), whose members eschew literary masterpieces and have banned Oprah’s Book Club selections as being too ‘uplifting.’ They prefer romance novels, murder mysteries, and sci-fi. Such delightful incidents and more abound in this enjoyable novel, giving a touch of wonderful realism and charm to the tangled exploits taking place in Tangle Butte.

To purchase visit Amazon. For more titles by this author visit The Wild Rose Press.
I originally reviewed this title for Readers Favorite.
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