With Los Angeles true-crime writer Molly Blume (yes, she gets teased about that a lot), Agatha Award winner Krich (Shadows of Sin
and four other Jessie Drake mysteries) introduces a smart new heroine in a new suspense series. Molly finds her stories everywhere and has learned to respect that tingle that tells her she's onto something. When a newspaper snippet about a young woman nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver snags her attention, Molly plunges headfirst into the story. It's a bit like falling into the rabbit hole, for the more she learns about the victim, the less she understands. The young woman may have been a tragic figure who killed her infant son while suffering a postpartum psychosis, or a very clever manipulator who planned the murder even before the child was born. She may have committed suicide in the hospital, or she may have been murdered. Molly's onion-peeling investigation will appeal to those who read mysteries for the pleasure of solving an intricate puzzle. Equally appealing, enough to make us wish for more, is the affectionate portrait of a large, boisterous Jewish family. Everyone needs a wise grandmother like Molly's. A sideline love story is a bit of a throwaway, but the fascinating look inside the culture and rituals of Orthodox Judaism more than makes up for it. Krich nicely captures the sense of community that religious faith can create, and she skillfully paints the special beauty of the desert landscape outside L.A. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Oct. 1)
Forecast:With blurbs from Sue Grafton and Harlan Coben, plus a five-city author tour and appearances at Jewish book fairs, Krich's new publisher is making a fair bid to win her the kind of audiences commanded by Faye Kellerman and Susan Isaacs. With a little extra magic, based more on prose quality than publicity and promotion, this new series could do it for her down the road.