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Some Like it Lethal: A Blackbird Sisters Mystery [Mass Market Paperback]

Nancy Martin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 5 2004 Blackbird Sisters Mystery (Book 3)

When the husband of a wealthy dog food heiress is found bludgeoned to death at an exclusive hunt club, Nora Blackbird is as surprised as anyone. Worse still, the evidence points toward a devious blackmail scheme-with Nora's sister, Emma, as the main suspect. Investigating with the help of friend and foe alike, Nora uncovers the secrets of some of Philadelphia's high-and-mightiest-and attracts the unwanted attentions of the real killer...


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About the Author

Like her heroines, the Blackbird Sisters, Nancy Martin comes from a distinguished Pennsylvania family whose ancestors include Betsy Ross and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  She has written numerous novels, directed a few Shakespeare plays, and raised two delightful daughters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

After my newly widowed sister Libby gave birth to her fifth child, she decided to become a goddess.

It takes effort,' she advised me when I went into her bedroom to shake her awake one cold November morning. But it's just what you need, Nora.'

I'm too busy taking care of your family,' I said, passing her the squirming body of her newborn son. When you finish transforming yourself, could you make some peanut butter sandwiches for the kids?'

I can't,' she said, taking the child. I've given up peanut butter as a sacrifice to Placida.'

Who?'

My goddess within.' Libby began unlacing the ties on one of her exquisitely embroidered nightgowns in preparation of feeding her frantic son his overdue breakfast. Placida is the deity of tranquility, sexual adventure and weight loss.'

I sighed. Libby, you had a baby just five weeks ago. And you can't expect to lose weight without getting out of bed once in a while. Giving up peanut butter is a good start, but if you quit watching all those episodes of Trading Spaces and get some exercise--'

You don't understand the goddess process, Nora.' Libby plumped the lacy pillows around her voluptuous figure and sat back with a beatific smile as the baby clamped on to her breast like a starving Yorkshire piglet. You must open yourself to the possibilities so the goddess may flow from within you. It's a mental path to all kinds of fulfillment. Why, just last night I had an erotic dream about Dr. Phil.'

As she nursed her perfect baby I looked at my demented sister, with her beautiful skin glowing and her hair in a vixenish sort of tangle and her body all soft and glamorously flaunted, as if ready to be ravaged at Versailles by a Bourbon king. The Blackbird white complexion and auburn hair--which had been passed down through the generations, along with a very peculiar family crest and a seventeenth-century Blackbird blunderbuss--looked demure on me but distinctly more erotic on Libby. After childbirth, women weren't supposed to look as if they'd been airbrushed by Playboy's most gifted photographer, but here was Libby looking divine while I felt as if I'd been beaten with a shovel.

I said, If I strangled you with your own nursing bra right now, it would be justifiable homicide.'

I'm re-centering my life!' she cried. Don't rush me! I must gather my cosmic resources, prioritize my most primal joys and learn to validate my sacred inner magic so I can evolve into the goddess of my mysterious potential. Such a powerful psychological makeover takes time.'

Well, the kitchen floor needs a makeover, too. How about using a mop while I'm out?'

She sat up and widened her eyes in pretty dismay. Where are you going? Good heavens, you're not having clandestine morning sex with That Man, are you?'

Although clandestine sex might tempt me I knew I shouldn't leave Libby's children alone in her custody for any reason whatsoever. Sixteen-year-old Rawlins had taken to suspiciously disappearing late at night with a group of friends who collectively had enough body piercings to start a surgical supply store. The thirteen-year-old twins Harcourt and Hilton were closeted in the basement, making a Santa Claus movie that involved bloodcurdling screams every three minutes, and five-year-old Lucy had invented an imaginary friend who graffitied the living room walls with grape jelly when I wasn't vigilant. The baby, who still had not been bestowed with a name by his goddess mother, couldn't bear to be anywhere but in my arms, except when he was trying to deplete his mother's milk supply.

To top everything off, Libby was lactating with more volume than a dairy cow, so one of my jobs was bottling and freezing the overflow to contribute to a breast milk bank at a Philadelphia foster child agency. Which meant there were even more children who depended on me while Libby lolled in postpartum splendor, dreaming of talk-show hosts and cockamamie deities.

I had no time for anything, including clandestine sex.

That Man,' I said, is fishing in Scotland.'

She settled back against her pillows and muttered, Yeah, sure.'

I turned in the doorway. What's that supposed to mean?'

Libby smoothed the fair hair on her baby's head. Honestly, Nora, if you believe your mob-boss boyfriend has gone fishing, I'm marching straight out to find a bridge to sell you.'

Oh, not that again.'

Do I need flip charts to explain it? Michael Abruzzo is a dangerous man mixed up in so many shady businesses--'

Name one.'

That new chain of gas stations,' Libby said promptly. Gas 'n' Grub? They're popping up all over the place.'

What's wrong with selling gasoline and sandwiches? Besides the indigestion?'

They're cash businesses, Nora. Even you must know what that means.'

He's making a living?' I said, tartly, bringing up a sore subject, since my parents blew the last of the Blackbird fortune and sailed off to a tax-evader's paradise where they spent most of their time rehearsing for the weekly mambo contest.

Libby covered her baby's ears lest he learn about high crime at such a tender age. Michael Abruzzo is laundering money.'

Oh, for crying out loud--'

The papers say he's under investigation.'

He's always under investigation. Because of his family, not himself.'

Well, this is a new one, and he's the star of the show. I heard it on the news last night. It's probably why he's fled the country.'

He hasn't fled! He's taking a vacation.'

Think about it, Nora. If you had ill-gotten gains, you'd want a place to pass the dirty money to an unsuspecting public in small batches. That's why he started Gas 'n' Grub. Vanity Fair had a big article about money laundering last month. Pizza shops: now, those are a gold mine for criminals.'

Michael is not a criminal.'

Which I believed most of the time.

He looks like a criminal,' Libby declared. A sexy criminal, I'll admit, with, okay, a sort of fallen-angel magnetism that some women find attractive, but--'

I'm leaving now,' I said before she could go into her riff about consorting with the devil. Somehow I wouldn't mind so much if I actually enjoyed a little consorting, but lately I'd been stuck refereeing her children. I'll be back in two hours.'

Where are you going?'

I told you. I'm covering the hunt breakfast for the newspaper. And Emma's riding, remember?'

Neither of us had quite gotten the hang of my employment yet. Before I was widowed, I'd spent my adult life being married to a doctor and devoting my time to good works and the Junior League, so when the family fortunes evaporated on tropical breezes, I didn't have a respectable resume for job hunting. But an old family friend who owned a Philadelphia newspaper had found me a position as an assistant to the society columnist. The job required me to attend parties and report on clothes, guest lists and the details of so-called high society entertaining. It was work for which I was singularly suited, having been brought up in a tax bracket where the oxygen was very thin and party planning was an art form. I wasn't going to earn a Pulitzer any time soon, but the job helped me pay down the heart-stopping tax debt on Blackbird Farm.

This morning's assignment was the hunt breakfast at an exclusive fox hunting club just off the Main Line. And I needed to be there shortly after sunrise.

Libby eyed me. Are you going to talk to Emma?'

I'm going to try.'

Maybe I should come along.'

I think I can address Emma's situation in a calm and rational manner on my own.'

Are you implying that childbirth has rendered me incapable of rationality?' Libby asked. I'll have you know there are actually studies that prove motherhood makes you smarter. So you have something to look forward to.'

My sister Libby had plans to make everyone's lives perfect. She decided that I only needed children to reach a state of serenity, and she rarely missed an opportunity to remind me of the maternal rewards that awaited me if I paid closer attention to the expiration date on my ovaries.

After five weeks in the household from hell,' I said, I'm having second thoughts about having a family of my own.'

Libby appeared not to hear me. I think I will go along with you this morning.'

You're kidding, right?'

We should present a united front. Yes, I'll definitely come. I have an invitation around here somewhere.' She disconnected her son from his food source and began to burp him while she imagined the party. It might be a nice reentry into the world for me, too. All those handsome men on horseback!' The look in her eye reminded me of a pyromaniac lighting a match.

Don't start, Libby.'

Don't start what?'

Chasing unsuspecting men as if they were helpless rabbits doomed for the stew pot. You're in a hormonal fever right now. You're a danger to society. I'm not taking you with me. Besides, my car will be here in five minutes, and you'll never be ready.'

I'll follow you later,' she said. Run along.'

What about the baby?' The idea of my lactating sister descending on an early morning party made me fear for the safety of my fellow guests. And the rest of the kids?'

She waved me off. There's plenty of my milk in the fridge, so he'll survive. I'll call a neighbor girl to keep an eye on the mayhem. I want to see you in action. You're always stumbling into excitement, and Placida thrives on exciting events. See you there!'

My driver, Reed Shakespeare, was waiting in the driveway in the predawn darkness when I went tearing outside. He worked for the limousine service Michael owned--one of his many businesses--that had been hired by my newspaper to deliver me to assignments. A part-time college student and barely out of his teens, Reed took his job very seriously. Now experienced with my various moods, especially when I was escaping one of my sisters, he calmly handed me a paper cup of tea--skim milk, no sugar, just the way I liked it--along with the morning newspaper for me to read in the backseat. He opened the rear door for me. He hadn't decided to allow me to sit up front yet, and I was determined to prove myself worthy...


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After my newly widowed sister Libby gave birth to her fifth child, she decided to become a goddess. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment May 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Overall, the story had a good plot, but I have to honestly say that I was disappointed with this book. The main character's, Nora Blackbird, thoughts became incomplete towards the end. It seemed as though the author was just tired of writing and ended the book. Without giving anything away, I will say that at least two of the conclusions reached by Nora were pulled from thin air. There was no mention of even how the character came up with the solutions. It just did not make any sense. Also, the book seemed unfinished. There was an issue that seemed unresolved. I just feel as though the author left the audience hanging on more than one occasion.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST Blackbird Sisters Mystery Yet... May 4 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Some Like It Lethal" is Nancy Martin's best 'Blackbird Sisters Mystery' to date! Martin continues her hilarious journey of the siblings, and the mysterious adventures they encounter. The plots just keep getting fresher and more innovative and the dialogue keeps getting wittier. (If that is possible!)
In this novel, Nora Blackbird continues her first real job as assistant to the Society Editor of the local newspaper. She attends various society functions, many of which she was routinely invited to previously in her "former life" - before she had to go to work. The only difference now is that she has to write a review and email it to the editor.
When she is not working, Nora is usually either saving the world from "killer dog" Spike (love him!) or taking care of her sister's family. Libby is recovering from recent childbirth and is busy embracing the goddess within. (The goddess, by the way, is Placida - deity of tranquility, adventure, and weight loss!)
While Nora is covering the annual "fox hunt" breakfast event for the newspaper, Rush Strawcutter, the husband of a dog food heiress, is found murdered in a horse stall. Nora's job of rescuing her siblings only escalates when she discovers that her sister, Emma, is drunk and unconscious in the stall as well.
Fortunately for Nora and her siblings, Michael is nearby to help lend a "streets smart" hand as Nora deals with blackmail, mystery, and romance.
An excellent and fun novel! Nancy Martin is quickly turning into one of my favorite writers.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Nora must prove Emma didn't kill Rush Strawcutter April 21 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nora Blackbird is at another society party. This time it is a hunt club breakfast. Rush Strawcutter, husband of a wealthy dog food heiress, is found bludgeoned to death in a horse stall. Nora's sister Emma is found unconscious and bruised nearby. The evidence begins to point to Emma as the main suspect. Nora knows Emma couldn't have done it, so she begins to investigate.
Nora's little sister Libby has just had another baby. Her husband has died - all the Blackbird women are widows, it appears to be a curse. Nora is staying with Libby to help out with the children. Michael, Nora's boyfriend who is the son of a mob boss, is out of the country on a fishing trip. The police are looking into possible money laundering and keep asking her about it. To complicate matters, she has a small, ugly puppy Spike who she takes almost everywhere with her in her purse.
Nora is from high society but since her parents left the country to avoid a $2 million tax bill, she has had to take a job as a society writer for a Philadelphia newspaper to keep her head above water and hold onto the family farm.
As Nora begins to investigate, her friend Hadley Pinkham comes to her aide many times. They know a lot of the same people and end up following one of them into a park. It appears he is paying the blackmailer. Nora knows if she can get to the bottom of the blackmailing, she'll probably get to the bottom of the murder as well. Somehow they are tied together.
This is a terrific series and this is a great addition to it. I like all the characters and all the parties she attends. Yet she seems to be a normal person most of the time. Her boyfriend Michael and Detective Bloom both add a lot of color to the story as well.
I always look forward to reading the next book in the series. I find it hard to put it down once I start! I highly recommend this one!
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful mystery April 6 2004
By Harriet Klausner TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and grew up to be one of the most sought after woman in main line Philadelphia society. Her parents squandered the family fortune, raided their daughters' trust funds and moved to a South American country to live the high life because Argentina doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States. Nora Blackbird wants to preserve the family homestead so she takes the job as the assistant to the society editor covering social events of the rich and famous.
When Nora attends the hunt club breakfast, her sister Emma is nowhere to be found even though she was supposed to be riding. After covering the story she looks for Emma but other guests find her in a barn stall, unconscious from too much drink and the murdered body of Rush Strawcutter next to her. Her whip is covered in blood and the police believe she is the perpetrator but Nora knows better and once again goes into sleuth mode to flush the guilty party out of hiding.
SOME LIKE IT LETHAL is a fabulous amateur sleuth mystery. The heroine is fearful about becoming involved with Michael because he was born and raised in a Mafia family and she is afraid to trust that he is totally innocent of any crimes, allowing her to seem vulnerable to readers beneath her tough exterior. Nancy Martin has written a real puzzler because the victim was so laid back and gentle that nobody, including Nora, believes he had an enemy in the world. Take a walk on the wild side with this rowdy and witty who-done-it.
Harriet Klausner
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST Blackbird Sisters Mystery Yet... May 4 2004
By K. A. Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Some Like It Lethal" is Nancy Martin's best 'Blackbird Sisters Mystery' to date! Martin continues her hilarious journey of the siblings, and the mysterious adventures they encounter. The plots just keep getting fresher and more innovative and the dialogue keeps getting wittier. (If that is possible!)
In this novel, Nora Blackbird continues her first real job as assistant to the Society Editor of the local newspaper. She attends various society functions, many of which she was routinely invited to previously in her "former life" - before she had to go to work. The only difference now is that she has to write a review and email it to the editor.
When she is not working, Nora is usually either saving the world from "killer dog" Spike (love him!) or taking care of her sister's family. Libby is recovering from recent childbirth and is busy embracing the goddess within. (The goddess, by the way, is Placida - deity of tranquility, adventure, and weight loss!)
While Nora is covering the annual "fox hunt" breakfast event for the newspaper, Rush Strawcutter, the husband of a dog food heiress, is found murdered in a horse stall. Nora's job of rescuing her siblings only escalates when she discovers that her sister, Emma, is drunk and unconscious in the stall as well.
Fortunately for Nora and her siblings, Michael is nearby to help lend a "streets smart" hand as Nora deals with blackmail, mystery, and romance.
An excellent and fun novel! Nancy Martin is quickly turning into one of my favorite writers.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful mystery April 6 2004
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and grew up to be one of the most sought after woman in main line Philadelphia society. Her parents squandered the family fortune, raided their daughters' trust funds and moved to a South American country to live the high life because Argentina doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States. Nora Blackbird wants to preserve the family homestead so she takes the job as the assistant to the society editor covering social events of the rich and famous.
When Nora attends the hunt club breakfast, her sister Emma is nowhere to be found even though she was supposed to be riding. After covering the story she looks for Emma but other guests find her in a barn stall, unconscious from too much drink and the murdered body of Rush Strawcutter next to her. Her whip is covered in blood and the police believe she is the perpetrator but Nora knows better and once again goes into sleuth mode to flush the guilty party out of hiding.
SOME LIKE IT LETHAL is a fabulous amateur sleuth mystery. The heroine is fearful about becoming involved with Michael because he was born and raised in a Mafia family and she is afraid to trust that he is totally innocent of any crimes, allowing her to seem vulnerable to readers beneath her tough exterior. Nancy Martin has written a real puzzler because the victim was so laid back and gentle that nobody, including Nora, believes he had an enemy in the world. Take a walk on the wild side with this rowdy and witty who-done-it.
Harriet Klausner
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nora must prove Emma didn't kill Rush Strawcutter April 21 2004
By Dawn Dowdle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nora Blackbird is at another society party. This time it is a hunt club breakfast. Rush Strawcutter, husband of a wealthy dog food heiress, is found bludgeoned to death in a horse stall. Nora's sister Emma is found unconscious and bruised nearby. The evidence begins to point to Emma as the main suspect. Nora knows Emma couldn't have done it, so she begins to investigate.
Nora's little sister Libby has just had another baby. Her husband has died - all the Blackbird women are widows, it appears to be a curse. Nora is staying with Libby to help out with the children. Michael, Nora's boyfriend who is the son of a mob boss, is out of the country on a fishing trip. The police are looking into possible money laundering and keep asking her about it. To complicate matters, she has a small, ugly puppy Spike who she takes almost everywhere with her in her purse.
Nora is from high society but since her parents left the country to avoid a $2 million tax bill, she has had to take a job as a society writer for a Philadelphia newspaper to keep her head above water and hold onto the family farm.
As Nora begins to investigate, her friend Hadley Pinkham comes to her aide many times. They know a lot of the same people and end up following one of them into a park. It appears he is paying the blackmailer. Nora knows if she can get to the bottom of the blackmailing, she'll probably get to the bottom of the murder as well. Somehow they are tied together.
This is a terrific series and this is a great addition to it. I like all the characters and all the parties she attends. Yet she seems to be a normal person most of the time. Her boyfriend Michael and Detective Bloom both add a lot of color to the story as well.
I always look forward to reading the next book in the series. I find it hard to put it down once I start! I highly recommend this one!
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment May 20 2004
By ChattyFattyLu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Overall, the story had a good plot, but I have to honestly say that I was disappointed with this book. The main character's, Nora Blackbird, thoughts became incomplete towards the end. It seemed as though the author was just tired of writing and ended the book. Without giving anything away, I will say that at least two of the conclusions reached by Nora were pulled from thin air. There was no mention of even how the character came up with the solutions. It just did not make any sense. Also, the book seemed unfinished. There was an issue that seemed unresolved. I just feel as though the author left the audience hanging on more than one occasion.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nora Blackbird is back on the case... May 16 2005
By DevJohn01 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
...In the best Blackbird sisters mystery yet! In `SOME LIKE IT LETHAL' Nora is forced to use her vast social connections and handy newspaper credentials to investigate a murder that hits close to home. When Rush Strawcutter, husband to the heir of the Strawcutter dog food fortune, is found murdered Nora's sister Emma is the prime suspect. Now Nora must figure out who the real killer is and how it is connected to a plot to blackmail many of Philadelphia's most prominent figures...including herself.

Not only does Nora have to fend off a smarmy blackmailer and try to figure out how to get her sister, who has fled the police with the aid of Michael Abruzzo (Nora's boyfriend), off the hook, but since sister Libby has decided to become a goddess after the birth of her fifth child she also has to watch over her five unruly children. If all of this weren't enough Nora is also worried about the money laundering charges that could be brought against Michael! Needless to say Nora experiences quite a few fainting spells in this third installment of the series. This series keeps getting better with each installment and I cannot wait to get my hands on the fourth `CROSS YOUR HEART AND HOPE TO DIE' where it seems Kitty will finally get her just deserts. 4  stars for the third book in this amusing series!
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