Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: Formula for Murder by Diana Orgain (Maternal Instinct Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great main characters, interesting story
Cons: Some new characters a bit bland, story bogs down a little in the middle
The Bottom Line
Christmas parties
Contrasted with a murder
Combine for fun book

New Mom Takes on French Embassy - Film at 11

Proving that anything can become the basis of a cozy mystery series, the Maternal Instincts series focuses on new mother Kate Connelly.  When Kate had Laurie three months ago, she intended to go back to work, but she couldn’t stand to put her baby in day care.  Through a series of strange events, she decided to become a PI, a career move that is paying off since Formula for Murder is the third case she’s solved in as many months.

Kate is on her way to have Christmas pictures of Laurie taken when they are rear ended.  The other car drives off, but not before a witness identifies the car as being from the French consulate there in San Francisco.  Kate and her husband Jim go there to try to get them to take responsibility.  They don’t get any help, but they do see two TV reporters leaving.

Two mornings later, one of the reporters is found murdered in a park.  The woman’s ex-husband hires fledging PI Kate to find out what really happened to her.  Was she working on a story connected to the consulate that got her killed?  Or was there something else in her life that lead to her demise?

Most of the time, I like Kate.  She is smart and a very loving mother.  A few times in the book, I felt she went overboard in her concern about Laurie or guilt for the things she wasn’t doing “right.”  Still, most of the time I could identify with her and found her desire to spend so much time with her daughter endearing.  The rest of the regulars are present here and just as much fun as always.  They are a very appealing gang.

The new characters are a mixed bunch.  Some of them are fully developed and seem real, even if they just appear for a few pages.  Others are a bit one dimensional, although they work for their part in the story.

The story starts out strong and quickly pulls you in with several twists and revelations.  Somewhere along the way, it seems to bog down as Kate gets stonewalled while trying to learn something new.  But things pick again as we gear up for the climax.

I wasn’t aware this book took place in December, but I found that a fun touch, and it made a good backdrop for several scenes in the book that take place during Christmas parties.  Plus is added another level of stress to Kate as she tried to solve the case while getting everything done for Christmas.

Obviously, you don’t have to be a new mother to enjoy Formula for Murder.  The appealing cast of characters will draw you into this story before you even know it.

You can watch Laurie grow up by reading the Maternal Instincts Mysteries in order.

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