I'm normally not a big mystery reader, but I've recently been getting more into cozy mysteries and psychological mysteries. I'm a quirky customer, though. For me to love a mystery, it has to have humor along with the grit. If food is involved, it's a bonus. Harlan Coben is one of my favorites, and I recently discovered Judy Alter when she did an interview on my blog. Her book No Neighborhood for Old Women fit the bill in the mystery/humor department.
The story is full of colorful characters, and by colorful, I mean literally. Keisha arrives at work each day with spiked hair of multiple hues, flaming turquoise skirts with matching shoes, or flowing scarlet tops. She has a no nonsense attitude that grounds Kelly O'Connell, the heroine and real estate agent/sleuth.
Kelly has realistic relationships with the people in her life, including her two young children, imposing neighbors, and a love interest with police officer Mike Shandy. She connects with everyone over food and wine, loosening lips enough to figure out who the serial killer in the neighborhood is that's targeting women living alone.
The thing I liked best about this book is there are no kick-ass heroes or heroines. Everyone is just as ordinary as the people on your own street. This is a mystery that could happen in any town, any state. Those are the kind I love. I find them to be the most unnerving, because they're so close to reality.
Judy Alter loves cooking and food, so it's no wonder she describes mouthwatering dishes in her novel. When Kelly O'Connell served her mother King Ranch Chicken, I had to go pull Judy's cookbook with this recipe off my kitchen shelf. I haven't made it before, but it's on my menu for this week. It's a spicy chicken dish made with Rotel tomatoes, one of my pantry staples. I'm going to try it in the crockpot to keep the kitchen cool.
|Image by leoslo on Flickr.|
|Image by Susan_W on Flickr.|
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