This second in the “Allison Campbell Mystery” series is disappointing. It would have been nice to come back to a different kind of detecting woman — a woman whose job it is to detect — and re-configure — a social image. The image of a person is of course a mysterious thing – what makes a person resonate success or wealth or credibility? How is it possible to create or re-create such an image? So promised Killer Image, the first Allison Campbell installment, where we were introduced to a divorced, independent and slightly peculiar professional who is paid to perform character make-overs. The subject of the first job was a politician’s unruly daughter. Yes she was also accused of a crime. Yes, there were suspects: twisted and corrupt. Yet somehow, Allison Campbell of Main Line Philadelphia resonated singularity. She wasn’t a detective. She wasn’t a cop. She wasn’t a little old lady.
The second installment is indeed disappointing because it is confused, confusing and formulaic. There are clients. They are suspicious. Their families are suspicious. There is a search for the truth, then a search for lost clients, against an over-resonance of overchewed, overused relationship problems. Really. You have an ex? You still love him? You’re not sure? Your ex-mother in law is sleeping with your business partner? Why am I reading this book?
At this point the suspense is effectively over. And the book might as well be.
Ex-police chief and widow returns to her home town to help her daughter recover from a divorce and gets messily involved in a murder. Mildly uninteresting.
Annie moves to sleepy Heron Island on Chesapeake Bay with her 8 year old daughter Taylor, who carries a broom everywhere. This is because she is one of the only pupils who survived a shooting at an elementary school in Washington D.C. Mother and daughter enjoy renovating the old fashioned house in the new town, make wind chimes together, and meet a rough islander and Navy SEAL, Will. Annie and Will and Taylor become an easy threesome, while Annie readies her cafe — where she will bake and cook and feed the fishermen, tourists and islanders….
A big man, a private eye, ex-military, school of Afghanistan, minus one leg and one girlfriend, hires a relentlessly normal secretary for a week. She stays on. He gets a case. She helps.
Because this is a women’s book you will read about a man, probably a husband, and he will be successful and fit and when he dies he will leave his wife betrayed, in debt and uninformed.
Grace, who practices psychiatry on Manhattan Island, relays a story about one of her patients to the interviewer from Vogue: At a very early point in their relationship, before they were married, her husband told her that she had ugly feet. She accepted this, and having accepted this one instance of rejection, of distaste, she might have, or could have, or should have anticipated that it preceded another rejection, for another part of her body, and thence perhaps for her person.
In other words, this patient, this woman, had an opportunity to anticipate an undesirable outcome, and that opportunity passed her by. This woman should have known, Grace thinks. And Grace thinks that her son is beautiful, and her apartment is unfair, and her husband is an angel; but he seems to have disappeared, and he is not answering his blackberry, and she has never ever ever thought that her husband, Jonathan, would leave her.
A newly widowed Bostonian author of children’s books sells her house and drives to Chicago looking at pretty houses and a town to live in. She finds an old Victorian house and buys it. She calls up old friends and discovers other lives running alongside hers. She moves on…
Gruellingly slow story about a reporter who is shot in her car while picking up a prescription that her husband forgot to pick up for her. She goes to her husband’s historic cottage in Virginia where she bumps into helpful neighbors, young and old, who tell her stories about her husband’s family and teach her about old quilts.
Remarkably lean and unfussy novelette about a female chef who rediscovers that experimentation is the best part of cooking…
Lola is a puckish mostly happy 84 year old ex-motel keeper who works at a charity shop In Claire Australia .. She is much loved by her granddaughters whom she has mothered and marshalled like a general, and who drop in to complain about their husband their children and each other. Funny senior citizen fiction….