Sue Ann Jaffarian returns with her latest Odelia Gray mystery. The fifty-something, overweight corpse magnet is up to her old tricks just months after finding a body in her trunk (although, for those of us in the real world, it's been a whole year since the last book came out). While previous books have found Odelia stumbling across a body within the first chapter, if not the first few pages, this time Jaffarian eases readers into the mystery. And, instead of Odelia finding the body, we discover that her "corpse magnet" curse is a family thing - as her niece, Lorraine, is the one who actually finds the body in the house of one of her grandmother's neighbors at the quiet little retirement village.
As with all of the Odelia Gray mysteries, the plot is rather intricate, and the tale Jaffarian weaves is full of red herrings, murder suspects, and just good ol' plain fun. This series is one of the few that I actually laugh out loud while I'm reading it.
At this point, you pretty much are waiting for that line to come out of someone's mother - whether it's Greg, Zee, Clark, Seth, Steele, or any of the other countless people Odelia knows. Only this time, Greg and Clark are out of town, so Odelia gets involved in yet another murder with the help of her mother and Clark's daughter, Lorraine. In fact, poor Lorraine is the one who discovers the body (while breaking into the house of a former rock singer who lives in the same community as Odelia's mother, Grace - that's a whole 'nother story in and of itself!), and it goes without saying, she finds herself drawn into figuring out who killed Cydney Fox, the agent (or should I say, former agent) for Bo Shank, the former lead singer for Acid Storm, an old rock band of yesteryear.
With Greg and Clark out of town and Seath and Zee running off to visit relatives, Odelia's sidekicks become Grace and Lorraine, with a bit of Willie and his new bodyguard, Buzz, thrown in for some fun. The interaction between Odelia and Willie is thoroughly enjoyable to read, and it was nice to see that even Willie can get exasperated by Odelia's gung-ho desire to follow-through and figure out exactly who the murderer is and why they killed Cydney Fox. But when an Armenian group appears on the scene and kills the band's recent agent who could have vital knowledge as to not only the murder of Cydney Fox, but also the disappearance of Bo Shank (as well as the disappearance of another resident at the Seaside Retirement Community), the danger escalates quickly.
Jaffarian knows how to plot a good murder mystery, there is no doubt. From page one, whether Odelia stumbles across the body there or two chapters in, the story and the characters are so engaging that the reader is immediately drawn into (or in my case, back into) the world of Odelia Gray. Jaffarian's characters are believable, never so over-the-top that it reminds you that this is pure fiction, and despite how crazy and zany things get, the reader makes an easy and immediate connection with Odelia and wishes that he or she were there in Odelia's stead!
I will say that Jaffarian had me guessing up until the very end. I admit that once I realized who the killer was, the rest of the pieces fell into place pretty easily. But up until that point, I truly thought someone else had done it (which, surprisingly enough, the motive of the person I thought had done it turned out to be pretty close to the motive of the real killer!). And with as many mysteries as I read, both adult fiction and young adult fiction, it's nice to know I haven't got the skills yet to figure them all out pretty early on!
The only question I have now is - when's the next book coming out?!?!
10 sleeping night-shift guards out of 10 for always providing engaging stories and keeping the plots fresh and new with no rehashed ideas!