From Publishers Weekly
Last seen in Marriage Is Murder , Jenny Cain, goodhearted but admirably disciplined director of the Port Frederick, Mass., Civic Foundation, skillfully utilizes intuition and steely nerves to solve two brutal slayings. When MaryDell Paine, wealthy and pompous do-gooder, appeals to the foundation for funds to renovate an old church basement as a recreation hall for former mental patients, it quickly becomes apparent that her altruism is tempered with urgent need. Her brother Kitt, a paranoid schizophrenic, has become a drain on the family's patience and finances. Jenny finds the site to be ideal, and begins to canvass the area, discovering a number of neighbors whose bizarre reactions to the renovation both provoke and intrigue her. When one of the neighbors is found slashed to death in the basement, suspicion falls on Kitt, and when another homeowner is discovered murdered in her living room, the search for Kitt intensifies, bringing Jenny into close cooperation with the able local police. A well-controlled sense of the absurd runs beneath the surface of the narrative, and Pickard is also deft at sharply rendering her characters' strong personalities. The plot eventually widens to include extortion and blackmail, all adeptly ferreted out by Jenny, as independent and imaginative as ever in her fifth mystery.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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When rich matriarch MaryDell Paine beseeches Port Frederick Civic Foundation director Jenny Cain to fund a recreation hall for released mental patients (such as MaryDell's brother), Jenny and her fired but not-yet-gone assistant Derek view the proposed site and canvass the neighbors for their opinion of it. When Jenny leaves, Derek innocently pockets the key, then uses it to let a pair of street people in for the night to escape the cold. In the morning, foul-mouthed neighbor Rodney Gardner lies butchered on the floor; there's a bizarre message on the blackboard from someone signed MOB; and Derek is missing (he later turns up sharing an expensive condo with Rodney's Lolita-ish wife Sammie). Anxious to solve the murder before the lecherous owner sells the building to the competitive bidder, Jenny consults her psychiatrist chum Marsha; then pries again among the neighbors, including anti-rec-hall Perry Yates, who had an affair with Sammie while he was married to free-wheeling artist Marianne. Soon another of the neighbors, who collects pig replicas and spouts locked-ward lingo, is found hanged; and MaryDell Paine's brother is fleeing to the next county in a mink coat and a Cadillac. Whodunit and why? A mental patient? A concerned neighbor? A lover? A greedy realtor? Jenny finds out in face-to-face confrontation, which ends in a hail of detective bullets. Peppy Jenny is a wonderfully unsaccharine heroine, whose sardonic asides are delightful, but the other characters could have used more fleshing out. Still, a sprightly mix of social issues and amateur detection-and a guaranteed pleasure for fans of the cozy mystery. (Kirkus Reviews)
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