Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick Study-Maggie Barbieri

Quick Study
Maggie Barbieri
St. Martin's, Dec 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 0312376758

When St. Thomas University English Lit Professor Alison Bergeron is not teaching, dating her NYPD boyfriend Bobby Crawford, or going to Manhattan to visit Rangerland in MSG wearing a Messier sweatshirt, she performs sixty hours of community service. It is at a soup kitchen that she met illegal Ecuadorian immigrant Hernan Escalante and his extended family. She hires Hernan to paint her dining room. Hernan and his nephew Jose Tomasso arrive while Alison still recuperates from two large beers last night watching hockey at the Garden.

Soon afterward Hose vanishes only to be found floating in the Hudson, near the Bronx’s luxurious Riviera Pointe condominiums. Although she knows better after her last whodunit got her in trouble with State Troopers, Alison, believing the death of an illegal will be swept into the river, investigates the homicide. A second murder occurs at Riviera Pointe while Hernan vanishes. Fearing for her new friend’s life though rationally she assumes he ran because of his status or lack thereof, Alison and her friends with the help of former sweetheart Jack McManus, whose other plus is he works for the New York Rangers, continue their inquiry even as her current boyfriend Bobby insists she cease and desist.

The hat trick Murder 101 cozy (see EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES and MURDER 101) is an enjoyable whodunit starring a wonderful lead activist who knows she shouldn’t but can’t help but getting involved. Maggie makes the tale with her amusing asides for example her observation that she is tall but not big yet Bobby must see her as gigantic because he always buys her extra large clothing like the Messier t-shirt. The mystery is fun to follow as amateur sleuthing spins out of control. Except for Boston Bruins fans, readers will enjoy the antics of the number one New York Ranger fan.

Harriet Klausner