Maybe the World’s Strangest Murder Mystery


I can’t remember ever readying a murder mystery odder than The Book of Old Houses, by Sarah Graves, and I’ve read a lot of them.  A quote on the cover says, “Anyone who can mix slaughter and screwdrivers is a genius.”  I beg to differ.  Maybe anyone who can convincingly mix slaughter and screwdrivers is a genius, assuming that they haven’t thrown slapstick comedy, “quaint” characters, cozy family life, a son who’s a recovering addict, a Don Juan neurosurgeon ex husband, a father who was suspected of murdering her mother, a prior career laundering money for the mob, and a hillbilly childhood into the mix. Oh yes.  There was also a bit about black magic.

Our heroine, Jacobia Tiptree, is an intrepid amateur sleuth who is supposedly intelligent and dangerous, except for those interludes when she can’t resist the temptation to demolish parts of her old house with a sledge hammer with no prior investigation of what she’s liable to destroy and no idea of how to fix it.  Then her IQ drops into the negative numbers and she’s a danger only to herself and any of her (inexplicably) loving family and friends who are within range.  Time out for a Laurel and Hardy set piece.  There is a not very believable murder mystery embedded in all this.

All I can say is, “Huh?”



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