Archive for 'Isleib, Roberta'
PREACHING TO THE CORPSE is the second Dr. Rebecca Butterman book. Rebecca gets a call from her minister in the middle of the night, triggering her worst fears. But the reverend’s call is to tell her that a fellow parishioner is dead and that he desperately needs her to take the woman’s place as head of the search committee looking for a new assistant minister. Rebecca, a psychologist, is concerned that Reverend Sandifer’s priorities are confused because he is a prime suspect in what turns out to be a murder, but does accept the position so she has an excuse to spend time with Detective Meigs. Meigs is the married detective she met the previous year and is half-heartedly trying to stay away from. But when he asks for her insider’s view of the happenings at the church…
It turns out that there is a lot more going on at the church than Rebecca was aware of. Every new piece of information she gathers for Meigs brings up more questions and concerns for Rebecca. Although Meigs warns her against investigating her fellow churchgoers, Rebecca keeps pushing forward and ends up learning a lot more about the people sitting in the pew next to her than the murderer is comfortable with and becomes a target herself.
Isleib hits her stride with Dr. Butterman in this book as she fleshes out Rebecca’s personal life. Recently divorced, infatuated with a married man, and combating her own personal demons from her childhood, Rebecca is herself a good candidate for both her advice column and her psychology practice as she tries to maintain some balance in her life and chart a new course for herself. While this might sound like a good formula for a deeply psychological book, Isleib keeps the style and plot firmly in cozy territory while giving the reader a very human and modern sleuth.
Favorite character? Rebecca – she second-guesses herself and reacts to situations in a very natural way. Did I guess it? Yes, as the book ran short on suspects near the end. Will I read another? Yes. I am curious to see where Isleib takes Rebecca next.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com ©2007
Please welcome our guest blogger Roberta Isleib. We are happy to be one of the stops on her virtual book tour for her latest book PREACHING TO THE CORPSE, the second in her advice column mystery series.
The first book my parents gave me was called THE SCARY THING by Laura Bannon (published in 1956.) Now if that isn’t a good name for a child’s mystery! I still have that copy on my shelf–a little orange hardcover scribbled with multi-colored crayon markings. And my name is written across the front page, also in crayon, and spelled incorrectly: Bobie instead of Bobbie (my childhood nickname.)
From that humble beginning, I moved on to reading the Bobbsey twins, Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, and Cherry Ames, nurse detective. I still remember small vignettes like the story of Cherry as a student nurse, managing to hold her tongue when she was scapegoated by an angry supervisor. These books quietly laid the groundwork for the direction I’d take as a writer many years later. I love reading about spunky amateur sleuths with real lives who solve crimes with their wits and their friends, not with guns and muscles.
My new book, PREACHING TO THE CORPSE, is the second in a series of three mysteries featuring advice columnist/psychologist Dr. Rebecca Butterman. The stories are traditional mysteries, but hopefully character-driven (with a Ph.D in psychology, I’d hope so!), tackling serious issues with a sense of humor. Like the books I grew up with, my character is not a professional detective, but she uses her training in observing and understanding human
behavior to help solve crimes.
PREACHING TO THE CORPSE, Berkley Prime Crime, December 4, 2007
In DEADLY ADVICE, Dr. Rebecca Butterman is a clinical psychologist who keeps wondering what she could have done differently, what signs she should have seen that her next door neighbor was suicidal. Rebecca comes home one evening to find the police removing the body of her neighbor, Madeline, who has been dead for two days. Rebecca is filled with guilt and starts to question herself. When her neighborâ€™s mother asks for her help in proving her daughter didnâ€™t kill herself, Rebecca is easy prey for her manipulation and is enlisted for the task.
What she discovers is that Madeline had an active and potentially dangerous social life. Rebecca combines her research for a magazine article on dating with her investigation of Madelineâ€™s activities in the local singlesâ€™ scene. She is horrified by the chances that Madeline took and begins to question whether her death was actually a suicide. Madelineâ€™s brother, the police, and Rebeccaâ€™s friends all try to get her to stop digging into Madelineâ€™s life, but Rebecca is driven by guilt, mounting evidence, and a growing list of potential murderers.
A significant portion of DEADLY ADVICE is about psychology and therapy, which I was afraid might be grating, but didnâ€™t turn out to be. Through Rebecca, Isleib (a clinical psychologist) imparts some interesting information about grief, loss, and divorce – all without sounding too preachy or overwhelming the reader. And she makes it a little funny, too, when Rebecca is having problems with her own therapist as she tries to sort out her feelings of abandonment. By the end of the book, the reader is left wondering if Rebecca mightnâ€™t have more problems than her patients.
Unfortunately, this emphasis on the psychological aspect means that there isnâ€™t as much plot development as I would like. Isleib develops an interesting list of suspects and motives, but no real evidence is unearthed and Rebecca stumbles across the identity of the murder instead of solving it. While this has become a popular ending technique, it isnâ€™t very rewarding for the reader.
Favorite character? Harry the hopeful dater. Did I guess it? Yes. Will I read another? Perhaps. I am definitely going to try Isleibâ€™s other mystery series about golf.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007