Pros: Great mystery, charming characters, comedy
The Bottom Line:
Put Jane in danger in this
Jane Will Charm You in This New Series Debut
I have fallen in love with Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake Mysteries, so when I saw she was starting a new series, there was no question that I was going to start it. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody introduces us to a new character I hope to follow around for many more mysteries.
Jane Darrowfield is one year into an early retirement, and she’s beginning to find herself at loose ends. She’s traveled, she’s planted a garden, and she’s organized. She’s also begun to look into situations for her friends, but she is surprised when she is contacted by Paul Peavey. He’s the director of Walden Springs, a nearby 55-and-older community, and he needs Jane’s help. He hires Jane to go undercover as a potential new member and hopefully she can come up with solutions to help me.
Jane hasn’t been there for more than a couple hours before she begins to see what the problems are. The community has formed clique that would make any high school proud, and the popular kids and the bikers are in the middle of a not so friendly prank war that is getting out of hand. But before Jane’s ideas can be put into practice, someone winds up dead on the community’s golf course. Did the war escalate to murder or is there another motive? This is more than Jane bargained for, but can she solve the case?
Naturally, as the first book in a new series, there are some things that need to be set up, but they are handled well without slowing down the story. We waste little time getting to Walden Springs, and once we do, we begin to see the problems quickly. The pace only picks up once the murder takes place. As you’d expect from one of Barbara Ross’s books, there are plenty of twists and surprises before we reach the logical conclusion.
Jane herself is a fantastic lead. We get glimpses of her past, and I look forward to learning more about her as the series progresses. The supporting players in her life aren’t an active part of this book after the story gets going, but I like them and want to be able to spend more time with them, too. The suspects become fully fleshed out by the end, and I came to like some of them much more than I thought I would.
The book has some very funny scenes. It does grow more serious as the story progresses, but even then, we get moments that lighten the mood.
Jane is being introduced as part of Kensington’s partnership with Barnes and Nobel and so is available as a paperback exclusive with that store for a year. For now, the links in my review will take you directly to Barnes and Nobel, or you can find it in your local store. In the middle of 2020, it will be available at all retailers and in all digital formats.
So, you might need to spend a little extra effort to meet Jane, but I guarantee you that it is worth it. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody is a delightful series debut, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with her soon.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.