Archive for 'Johnson, Dolores'
Pressed to Kill features dry cleaner Mandy Dyer. When Mandy compliments a customer named Ardith on her appearance, Ardith says she has a new boyfriend who she met at Mandyâ€™s open house a few months before. And while they are keeping the relationship quiet for now, Ardith is very happy. Mandy is suspicious about this secrecy, thinking the man is probably married. But when Ardith turns up murdered soon after, Mandyâ€™s thoughts immediately turn to the mysterious new boyfriend â€“ who is probably also a customer. When she discovers that Ardithâ€™s murder is similar to several others, and that one of the other murder victims was also a dry cleaning customer with a new boyfriend, Mandy believes that one of her male customers is a serial killer.
And while she is looking for a serial killer, Mandy is also juggling her dry cleaning business and several difficult employees, her private detective boyfriend, and the complicated politics of planning a family wedding with an over-enthusiastic mother and a reluctant bride.
Pressed to Kill is not a bad book. The setting and plot are fine and the wedding planning bit is a classic. Mandyâ€™s sidekicks Betty the Bag Lady and long-time employee Mack are both nice additions to the story. My issues with this book are with the character of Mandy. I think some of the conversations with her employees border on being really rude and show her in a bad light â€“ which means we donâ€™t like the character as much.
And Johnson faces a classic mystery problem in her first chapter â€“ how to get her amateur sleuth to investigate the mystery â€“ and solves the problem in a way that serves to further diminish the character of Mandy in the eyes of the reader. You see, Mandy suspects immediately that one of her customers is a murderer, but she refuses to turn over her client list to the police. Even after she suspects that the mystery boyfriend is a serial killer, she unrealistically holds onto her customer list under the pretext of protecting their privacy. No one expects attorney/client privileges from their dry cleaner and this withholding of evidence causes the reader to lose respect for Mandy. This plot device gets Mandy to investigate, but I think it harms the overall story.
Favorite character? Betty the Bag Lady. Did I guess it? No. Will I read another? Maybe.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007