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Nursery Crimes [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Ayelet Waldman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 2004 Beeler Large Print Mystery Series
Ayelet Waldman's delightful mystery series introduced readers to Juliet Applebaum, a public defender turned stay-at-home mom. Juliet shares parenting duties with her screenwriter husband, but she's bored with playdates and trips to the park. That is, until she finds a way to spice up motherhood—with murder...

Getting accepted at Hollywood's hottest preschool is every bit as cutthroat as getting cast in a Hollywood film. Even Juliet's own two-year-old, Ruby, got butted out of the Billy-goat room. But when the school's principal is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Juliet wonders if someone is taking the competition too seriously. And even though she's eight months pregnant, with a toddler by her side, Juliet Applebaum decides to get off the mommy track to track down a would-be killer.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

Nursery Crimes, progeny of first-time author Ayelet Waldman, bills itself as a mommy track mystery, the first in a series featuring Juliet Applebaum, a 5-foot-tall dynamo who gave up a career as a public defender to stay home with her daughter Ruby. Pregnant with her second child, Juliet is at loose ends and dissatisfied:
Anyone who tells you that having a child doesn't completely and irrevocable ruin your life is lying. As soon as that damp little bundle of poop and neediness lands in your lap, it's all over. Everything changes. Your relationship is destroyed. Your looks are shot. Your productivity is devastated. And you get stupid. Dense. Thick. Pregnancy and lactation make you dumb. That's a proven scientific fact.
When Ruby, a whiner and grabber par excellence, doesn't make the cut for Heart's Song, L.A.'s most prestigious preschool, Juliet and her husband Peter shrug it off with good grace. But when the school's founder, Abigail Hathaway, is killed in what the police think is a hit-and-run accident, Juliet's convinced something nefarious is afoot. Did Bruce LeCrone, a movie studio powerhouse with a flashpoint temper, kill Abigail after his son was denied admission? What about Daniel Mooney, Abigail's fourth husband--an egocentric new ager who's been communing with a voluptuous redhead? As Juliet discovers that everyone has secrets to keep, she realizes being a stay-at-home-mom is rather more risky than she'd thought.

Waldman's novel is breezy and engaging. Both Juliet's frustration ("Now, suddenly, just because I had doffed my lawyer's wig and donned a housewife's kerchief, people like Detective Carswell thought they could pat me on the head and send me on my way") and her witty asides on the idiosyncrasies of life in southern California (think Kinsey Millhone with a diaper bag) lend ballast to an admittedly slim plot. Effortlessly adept at sketching both character and place, Waldman falters slightly when it comes to action. Too often, she relies on awkward summaries to provide readers with crucial information, and Juliet's deductions occasionally seem abrupt and unsubstantiated. But these narrative hiccups don't detract from a thoroughly pleasant read. One minor cavil: Waldman's rendition of 2-year-old Ruby's speech is irritatingly coy (dinner at an Italian restaurant becomes "fed-up-cino alfwedo"). Since Juliet herself so staunchly opposes the saccharine school of motherhood, must her child descend to its cloying depths? --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Former federal prosecutor turned stay-at-home mom Waldman debuts with a humorous tale featuring a sleuth much like her creator. Juliet Applebaum gives up her job as a federal public defender to stay home with her small daughter, Ruby. Her screenwriter husband, Peter Wyeth, shares parenting duties. Juliet loves her family, but as she nears the end of her second pregnancy, she's restless, missing her job and worrying about her skills as a mother. Trouble starts when Juliet, Peter and Ruby attend an interview at the Heart's Song School, the most prestigious preschool in Los Angeles. The principal, Abigail Hathaway, doesn't seem impressed by either Ruby or her parents. Ruby doesn't get inAnor does the daughter of a temperamental and violent studio head, Bruce LeCrone. When Hathaway dies in a hit-and-run outside the school, Juliet immediately suspects LeCrone. But LeCrone turns out to have a solid alibi, so Juliet shifts the focus of her sub-rosa investigation to the victim's real-estate developer husband and rebellious daughter. Juliet's nosing around helps the police zero in on a suspect, but when she realizes that she's misinterpreted a crucial piece of evidence, she foolishly jeopardizes her own life, and that of her unborn child, to bring the killer to justice. Juliet's voice is strong and appealing, and the Hollywood satire is dead on, but in future outings perhaps Waldman can avoid putting an otherwise intelligent heroine into a clich?d, vulnerable-female-in-peril denouement. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising! June 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This a great concept for a mystery/detective series. The characters are set with the Juliet, a stay at home Mom, who gave up her career to be with a headstrong two and one-half year old named Ruby, an unflappable husband, and a child soon to be born. Nursery Crimes was witty and breezy at the start and a terrific page-turner at the end. Waldman did a great job with twists and turns that made sense and did not seem contrived. I did figure out who did it a couple of chapters ahead of Juliet, but it's nice to feel smart. My reason for only four stars is that Nursery Crimes did slump in the middle and I feared that a promising beginning would be for naught. However the ending more than made up for that. Besides, how many mysteries have a great start and middle only to fizzle at the end? Nursery Crimes was a nice change from the empty feeling that comes from that path. Having gone through the early stage parenthood myself I find myself identifying Juliet's parenthood trials even though I am a mere man. My child is now a teenager and I hope this series gets that far so I can see how Juliet handles a fourteen year old Ruby. Meanwhile I find myself wondering what future evils will lurk in places such as Chuckey Cheese, the PTA, and Brownies.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Cute," Fast-paced, but the ending is obvious March 11 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Juliet Appelbaum is a SAHM who is embarrassed to admit the fact (even to herself) that spending her entire day finger-painting with her 3-year-old daughter isn't mentally stimulating enough to satisfy herself, day after day. Relying on research skills honed as a Harvard Law student and then public defender, Juliet investigates the murder of a local preschool principal.
Cute story, biggest flaw being the fact that I "solved" the murder a good 3-4 chapters before Juliet. I still want to continue the series, but if the next book is that obvious too, I'll be done. I read Waldman's "Daughter's Keeper" this year, and it was much better than Nursery Crimes.
Very curious as to how autobiographical this book is! Many of the facts of Juliet's life match those that I know of Waldman's;
--- Both Harvard Law grads
--- and former public defenders
--- who quit work to become SAHM's (or maybe WAHM's)
--- both married to men in nontraditional writing jobs (Chabon - Pulitzer-winning author of Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Peter, screenwriter)
--- both hubbies interested in comics, action figures
--- Neither Juliet nor Ayelet took hubby's last name
--- both live in upper echelons of large Californian cities
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Mommy of Mysteries Feb. 7 2002
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Juliet Appelbaum is a treasure! Bright, funny, savvy with a lot on the ball, the Harvard educated attorney/public defender is the proud mother of a bright, verbal 2-year-old girl and a son on the way. Juliet is married to a playwright who provides a creative foil to her serious side.
Indeed, Juliet is never at a loss for creative energy and activity. After failing to get Ruby accepted at a prestigious nursery school, Juliet literally walks into a mystery. The school's founder and director is found murdered days after Juliet's encounter with her and Juliet is determined to crack the case. The list of suspects is quite long -- a former husband, a current husband, an irate parent with questionable connections whose child did not get accepted into the school are likely suspects. The internet offers clues to solve a seemingly interlocked set of mysteries.
I absolutely LOVED this book and can't wait for Waldman's next! I hope she'll keep Juliet permanently installed as a literary detective!
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By tamara
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I hate it when moms get asked the question, "Do you work?" Heck yes! Juliet Applebaum, the heroine of this wonderful series, can add another dimension to her answer ... she's also an (unofficial) private investigator. In this story, Juliet becomes suspicious when the principal of an elitist L.A. nursery school is mowed down in a "hit and run." Braving berserk studio executives, internet intrigue, doubting friends, skeptical L.A. cops (who think stay-at-home moms suffer from a dubious intellect), Juliet solves the crime.
What makes this book so delicious is Juliet's sense of humor and honesty. She freely admits that her daughter can be darn annoying and that she is ambivalent, even resentful, of leaving her job as a Harvard-trained public defender to stay at home with her pre-schooler and soon-to-be born son. She acknowledges the joys of marriage and motherhood, too, but her free and funny expression of competing thoughts is refreshing. The other characters are also very realistic and fascinating (including a Hollywood A-list best friend who has her own motive for undermining Juliet's investigation.) L.A. with its celebrity-worshipping milieu serves as a riveting backdrop for the action.
Although I solved the mystery about a chapter before Juliet did (and I'm no sleuth), I still found the book very much worth reading. Juliet is an immensely likable character and I found myself wishing she were real because I know I would enjoy her company.
An interesting literary aside: Ayelet Waldman, the author, is married to Michael Chabon, acclaimed author of Wonder Boys and The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I love LA
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is delightful, the characters are believable, the protagonist is very likable. Juliet Applebaum is every woman's favorite girlfriend. Read more
Published on April 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 star review from Timeless Tales!
from reviewer J.P. Sydney
Juliet Applebaum isn't cut out to be a working mom, but she isn't cut out to be a stay-at-home mom either. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2004 by "tteditor"
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
This is one of the worst-written mysteries I have ever read. It reads like Waldman spent a few hours in a "how-to-write-a-mystery-novel" class and figured she'd get away... Read more
Published on Nov. 18 2003 by Kenneth French
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime on the Mommy Track!
Juliet Applebaum debuts in this "Mommy Track" mystery set in L.A. Juliet is a former public defender that left her position after the birth of her first daughter and she... Read more
Published on June 20 2003 by L Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars A 'mommy-track 'mystery? Oh, please!
Is she serious? I figured the author, married to icon Michael Chabon, would write something better than Nursery Crimes. Read more
Published on April 27 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor writing
Waldman's cliches in this novel ("My ears pricked up"; "I decided to try to find out if LeCrone's violent tendencies had reared their ugly head"; "I'd... Read more
Published on Dec 21 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Mommy Track" mysteries
Juliet, a Harvard Law School graduate and former corporate
attorney, leaves professional life for the imagined pleasures
of being a stay-at-home mother. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2002 by Thomas Ng
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun start to a new series
Juliet Applebaum is at loose ends in her life. After her daughter Ruby was born, she decided to put her career as a public defender on hold because she wasn't giving enough to... Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2002 by Mark Baker
2.0 out of 5 stars Cheap mind candy... bleah
The "Mommy-Track" mysteries are less than lightweight entertainment. Like butter-flavored popcorn and orange soda at the movie theater, they seem to taste good going down, but they... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2002 by MFS
5.0 out of 5 stars Nursery Crimes
Excellent book!!!! Kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't want to put it down.
Published on June 18 2002
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