Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book Review: Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door by Barbara Ross (Jane Darrowfield #2)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Jane, strong mystery
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Jane helps a neighbor
Creative cozy story
Captivating book

Is Jane’s Neighbor Crazy?

Last year, I completely enjoyed the first book in Barbara Ross’s Jane Darrowfield series.  Not only was it well written, it offered something different to the cozy mystery genre.  I’m delighted to say that the follow up, Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door, is just as strong.

If you haven’t met Jane yet, she is a retired woman who has discovered her years in corporate America have trained her to help others solve their problems.  As a result, she has opened a business as a professional busybody.  People come to her with their problems, and she works to resolve them.  Simple as that – at least most of the time.

Jane’s newest client is Megan Larsen, her next door neighbor.  Megan is a single, mid-30s lawyer on track to become a partner in her firm.  However, she begins to suspect that something might be wrong with her.  She’s hearing voices and having blackouts among other symptoms.  Either she’s going crazy, or someone is out to make her think she is.

Jane quickly comes up with a diagnosis, but then something happens that makes Jane question everything she thought she knew.  Is Megan in danger?  Or is Jane really living next to a madwoman?

You can see why I view this is different from a typical cozy.  And, as much as I love cozies, it’s nice to read a twist on the genre.  And what a great twist this was.  Just about the time I thought I knew where things were going, a twist would come that would make me question everything I thought I knew.  Yet by the time everything was resolved, everything made sense.

The last book was rather humorous with the antics that Jane had been hired to solve.  This book was more serious in tone.  What Megan is dealing with is serious as is what Jane uncovers along the way to helping her.  Those subjects are handled beautifully, just don’t expect quite as many laughs this time around.

Jane is a fantastic main character.  Obviously, she is another way this series stands out from many cozies because she is older than your typical cozy heroine.  She has a wisdom about her that I love.  Her friends aren’t super developed, but they don’t have that much page time again here, so that makes sense.  Megan, however, comes alive, as do the others that Jane encounters along the way to the solution.

I really did enjoy my second visit with Jane.  Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door is a fantastic mystery that kept me engaged from start to finish.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

NOTE 2: Like the first in the series, this is a Barnes and Nobel exclusive for the first year, and only available as a physical book from them until late in 2021.

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