A DYING ART: A Maggie Kean Mystery

Nageeba Davis, Author
Nageeba Davis, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $21.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-425-17951-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-425-18548-3
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Though the plot is thin and the mystery painfully obvious, a humorous voice and a teasing romance carry this lightweight cozy by first-time author Davis. Maggie Kean is an elementary school art teacher, a budding sculptor and a weekend softball player. She's also the antithesis of her extremely wealthy neighbor, Elizabeth Boyer—"a cross between Joan Collins and Aunt Bea"—who has nagged, prodded and encouraged Maggie in every facet of her life. Elizabeth has also made Maggie the fiduciary of her estate, as she learns when her neighbor's body turns up, incredibly, in Maggie's septic tank. Elizabeth's two feckless grandchildren, raised by their grandparents after their parents died in a car accident, are furious and will try anything to reclaim their inheritance. In addition, handsome homicide detective Sam Villari is watching Maggie like a hawk—not just because the victim was found on Maggie's property with few clues that point elsewhere, but also because Maggie can't help doing a little sleuthing on her own when she gets impatient with the slow pace of the police. Maggie is at once irritatingly stupid and endearingly funny, but she isn't given much room to maneuver in her first outing in this new series. There are few significant settings and, despite a perfunctory investigation and feisty repartee with Villari, little real action. The inevitable romance between the art teacher and the cop offers little compensation for the sketchy plot, token red herrings and cardboard secondary characters. (July 10)

Forecast:Discerning readers will avoid this one.

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