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Midlife Can Be Murder: A Bel Barrett Mystery [Mass Market Paperback]

Jane Isenberg
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 16 2001 Bel Barrett Mysteries (Avon Books)
Mood swings aren't the only hormonal hotspots in Bel Barrett's midlife -- now she's having a religious identity crisis...and a dose of Jewish guilt to boot! The fifty-something New Jersey community college professor never dreamed she'd run into former student Ashley Roberts -- a young woman she once may have wronged -- in a study group at her synagogue. So when the "accidental" death of a close colleague leaves Ashley distraught, Bel feels compelled to investigate the tragedy. But her good intentions land her in a wildworld of corporate espionage, dangerous personal and professional practices, and old-fashioned chicanery at a new internet company. When she realizes that a fatal indoor rock climbing "mishap" was really a murder, Bel's suddenly snarled in a deadly web that will take a Solomon to untangle...and a Samson to survive.

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About the Author

Jane Isenberg taught English to urban community college students for close to thirty years. She has been writing mysteries ever since she experienced her first hot flash. Her copies of Modern Maturity are delivered to her new home in Amherst, Massachusetts, that she shares with her husband Phil Thompkins.


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sassy, Sparkling and Satisfying Read! Dec 26 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jane Isenberg's Bel Barrett mysteries provide what we dedicated mystery readers want: a protagonist, as real and recognizable as a good friend, who puts her extensive life experiences to good use in solving a murder; an intricate but not contrived plot; witty dialogue that moves the story and illuminates the characters; and just enough information about unfamiliar subjects to whet our interest and keep us coming back for more. In "Midlife Can Be Murder", Bel and company deliver once again. Though e-commerce may be dominated by techno-30-somethings, Bel and her friends use their hard-earned 50-something savvy to uncover greed and uncontrolled ambition as roots of murder. Along the way, Bel attempts to make up for a past wrong, balance professional obligations with personal needs, support a friend, manage menopausal symptoms, and grow spiritually--all at the same time. I found this book to be wryly humorous and often moving, as only stories grounded in reality can be. But it is also a solid, stylish and well-written mystery, one that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. I hope Ms. Isenberg has more Bel Barrett stories coming soon. Her growing number of fans will be waiting eagerly!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Ludicrous Dec 4 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If this wasn't the most ridiculous book I've ever read, it sure came close.
Bel's former student asks her to figure out why her co-worker was killed. Yet when Bel drags her two friends into helping her, they all decide not to tell the former student anything. Huh? They don't even know this person...why would they try to solve his murder if not for Ashley? Why would they care?
So much time was wasted on ridiculous conversation between Bel, Betty and Illuminada that it began to feel like I was reading more filler than story. I mean, a whole chapter about Illuminada's "reconcilliation" with her daughter?
It just gets worse as it goes on. Bel figures something out out of nowhere, and within a couple of days, she's got some guy flying across the country to meet with her by posing as a recruiter. If I went across the country for a job interview and the recruiter suddenly told me she wasn't really a recruiter and started asking me questions out of the blue about something I'd rather forget, I certainly wouldn't sit there and allow her to tape the conversation...I'd be on the first plane home.
But the worst part of all had to be when Bel caught the murderer...by COUGHING ON HIM?!?!? I could not believe what I was reading.
Add all this to the fact that so much of the book is a history lesson in the Jewish religion, and you'd be better off taking a nap rather than reading this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A multi-layer mysery Oct. 1 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Hoboken, New Jersey may not be the center of the universe but there are enough activities going on to keep Bel Barrett busy twenty-four hours a day. She's a full time English professor at the local community college and is only a semester away from getting her Ph.D. In her spare moments she works on her relationship with her significant other. If that isn't enough, Bel decides to get in touch with her Jewish heritage by attending classes that will lead up to her Adult Bat Mitzvah.

In the Hebrew class is her former student Ashley who begs her to help find out whether her friend's death was an accident or a murder as she rally suspects. Unable to say no, Bel enlists the help of her friends who have worked with her on previous murder investigations. Together they launch an operation that takes a lot of energy and nearly costs Bel all that she holds dear.

The fifty something-menopausal heroine is drawn very true to life and is so noble and charming she has the audience rooting for her all the way. The secondary cast is just as well drawn as the star. The characters make MIDLIFE CAN BE MURDER feels more like a multi dimensional reading experience. Jane Isenberg has crafted a well-written mystery with enough red herrings to keep the best puzzle solver stumped.

Harriet Klausner
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