Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: Mother's Day Out by Karen MacInerney (Margie Peterson #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Laughs, twists, and great characters
Cons: One issue with the plot for me, but most people won’t be bothered by it.
The Bottom Line:
Wacky mystery
Kicks off promising series
You won’t put it down

Grab Your Fry Phone and Hang on for the Wild Ride

I’ve been reading and enjoying Karen MacInerney’s cozy mysteries for years, but I was hesitant to read Mother's Day Out.  Karen herself said it wasn’t in her normal cozy vein, so I wasn’t sure how I would react to it.  I’m happy to say that I really did enjoy it.

Margie Peterson is a stay at home mom trying to help pay for her kid’s preschool, so she takes a part time job as a PI.  Her first case ends in personal disaster when she loses her daughter’s favorite toy, a fry phone from a McDonald’s happy meal, after getting the shot of the cheating husband she was tailing.

But things go from bad to worse that night when Margie takes on a second case.  Before the night is over, she stumbles over the body of a dead transvestite.  Even more surprising is what she finds on the victim’s phone.  Can she solve a case that has suddenly become personal?

If I hadn’t said this wasn’t a cozy before, you would have figured it out by now.  Transvestites aren’t your normal cozy mystery victim (although I can think of one or two where it has come up).  This isn’t a full on PI book or anything dark or heavy.  I’d classify it as soft boiled with a strong humorous bent, in fact.

While some of the humor in this book is supposed to come from Margie embarrassing herself (which usually makes me cringe instead of laugh), I still found plenty to laugh at, including a scene with a cat that had me laughing out loud in the break room at work.  While I’ve only read a couple of Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, that was still the best comparison that came into my mind in terms of content and humor.

Of course, one of my complaints with Janet Evanovich is that her characters are shallow (just look at my reviews of the series she is co-writing with Lee Goldberg).  That’s not an issue in this book at all.  Margie is a fully formed and sympathetic main character.  You get where she is coming from and why she does what she does.  Her kids are realistic, her mother-in-law and mother both pains….  The list could go on.  Really, all of the cast comes across as very real, and it’s hard not to wonder what will happen next to them.

Couple that with a wonderful plot.  This may be Margie’s first case, but she is already a great detective.  Oh, she has a few missteps, but they are completely realistic, and the way she puts things together at the end was great.  Margie is clearly on her way to being a sharp PI, and I’m sure that will be developed as the series goes forward.  I did have one issue with the plot as a Christian (being vague to avoid spoilers), but that is a difference in how Karen and I view the world and not something that will take away from most people’s enjoyment of the book.  Truly, the mystery is very solid, and I was racing to the end to find out just what all was going on.

So Mother's Day Out proves to be another winner from a talented author.  If you are looking for a wacky mystery that will have you laughing and turning pages, this is the book for you.


  1. I love Karen MacInerney's books and this looks completely different from anything else I've read by her. It sounds like a lot of fun and I really love that the characters have a bit more substance. I'll have to check this one out!

    1. It is different from her normal books, or at least the ones I've read in the past (never read the fantasy books she's written), but she pulls it off wonderfully. Not that I'm at all surprised.

  2. It is a bit different from her other series but I enjoyed the first one a great deal!

    1. Different can be quite good, as this book proved.

  3. I like my characters well-crafted. Like how shallow are hers?? That worries me. I do like it very plot driven too, especially a mystery, so I think she fits that one.

    1. Sounds like I need to recraft my review. Janet Evanovich's characters always seem shallow to me. The ones in this book were great!