on July 6, 2000
Jane and Shelley always work better for me when they're at home, with the kids, and the neighbors, and the daily disasters. This time, Jane is frantically trying to pull together not one, but two holiday parties, keep the kids on an even keel, and deal with an unexpected house guest in the form of Mel's mother, dumped on her without warning. Add to that a muck-raking, or muck-inventing local TV reporter, who falls, or is pushed? to his death from the roof next door, a pair of "hillbillies" with the worst taste in the world, and you have another great Jane Jeffry adventure. Particularly touching was Jane's evening making ornaments with her teenage daughter, a sweet lull in the usual mom-daughter running battle. Don't miss this one!
on March 18, 2002
Jill Churchill wins again, with another suburban mystery. In Merchant of Menace, the mystery arises out of, and fits seamlessly into, Jane Jeffry's suburban milieu. Who did kill the sleazy tv expose reporter? And why? And what's up with the hillbillies who moved in next door and their wonderfully tacky Christmas decorations? The neighborhood events, the recurring characters, including some neighbors we've seen before, like the inimitable Susie, even Jane's potential mother-in-law, all ring hilariously true. I'd love to have seen more of Mel's mother, though. Seems like there should have been a denouement to the simmering conflict between them. Maybe we'll see her again some day? (Some book?)