Nursery Crimes Hardcover – Large Print, Feb 2004
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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
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. A former public defender, Juliet can't step away when she's thrust into the middle of a murder mystery.
All Juliet had wanted was for her two-year-old daughter, Ruby, to get into the prestigious Heart's Song School in Los Angeles. The initial meeting and interview don't go over well and they aren't offered the application for enrollment. Taking it in stride, Juliet and her husband, Peter, a screenwriter, begin to leave. But another man becomes violent with Principal Abigail Hathaway, demanding an application. Peter gets between the man and the principal and everyone leaves. Juliet would never have given any of this a second thought if later that night she hadn't heard of Abigail's untimely death by a hit and run driver.
Juliet can't get the violent encounter out of her mind, and involves herself in the police investigation. Using her connections at the Public Defenders office and some unique sleuthing skills (taking her daughter to a park near one of the suspect's homes so she could question the nanny), Juliet delves deeper into the background of both the victim and every suspect. But what starts out looking like a simple rage killing becomes more complex as Juliet learns more about the victim and the secrets she'd been hiding.
Ms. Waldman is very much like her character Juliet--a former public defender who is now a stay at home mom. I'm thankful for the transition because Ms. Waldman does a phenomenal job creating a fun, fast-paced mystery that I read in one sitting. Although Nursery Crimes is Ms. Waldman's first book, she's already found her voice. Smart, witty, and entertaining, she had me hooked from the very first page. Both Ms. Waldman and her heroine are women to be respected and admired for their accomplishments, and I can't wait to spend more time with Juliet in her further adventures.
I enjoyed this first book in the Mommy Track series and look forward to reading more about these characters. I found Juliet pretty whiny at times, but had to admit that being 8-months pregnant was not all that easy for me either. Overall, I thought that it was a light-hearted read, and am anxious to see how Juliet copes with two youngsters in the coming books. Enjoy!
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on April 16 2004
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 morePublished on Nov. 18 2003 by K. French
Is she serious? I figured the author, married to icon Michael Chabon, would write something better than Nursery Crimes. Read morePublished on April 27 2003
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
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 morePublished on Sept. 12 2002 by Mark Baker - Carstairs Considers
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 morePublished on Aug. 23 2002 by MFS
Excellent book!!!! Kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't want to put it down.Published on June 18 2002