As promised, I’m posting the review I received from the ABNA Publishers’ Weekly reviewer. Alas, my entry didn’t proceed to the semifinals. But I’m greatly encouraged by the review. Here ’tis:
“There’s more fun than malice in this domestic murder mystery; readers will enjoy not only the sleuthing but following Orange County single mom Maggie Chessman as she goes about doing the many odd jobs that it takes to keep her family of three sons afloat. She’s working with her friend Jane cleaning model homes when they find the corpse of a naked man with a donut over his penis. The dead man is Mitch Thompson, a married general contractor who had once attempted to grope Maggie. The donut, meanwhile, is not the edible variety, but is instead the term used for a type of lock realtors put over a doorknob to secure homes that are being shown to buyers. The cops are called and the responder is officer Fortunado “Tuna” Rocha, a handsome policeman who is attracted to Maggie, and she, of course, to him. Maggie and Jane take it upon themselves to find the killer. There are several possibilities–Mitch’s wife Sherry; the “diminutive and childlike” Pipin, who usually worked with Jane doing the house cleaning; an angry homeowner who felt cheated by Mitch; a local developer, William Winston; and a few other candidates. A wide range of zany secondary characters circle around Maggie and the plot, each adding something whacky to the mix. The repartee between Maggie and Jane is genuinely funny and the entire production is only slightly marred by a dark secret from Maggie’s past that never really belongs in an otherwise appealing mystery comedy.”
That last line is a little deflating but I was encouraged by a fellow entrant’s response. She says: “There is nothing wrong with having humor in a serious book, or people who are just naturally glib. That just gives a realistic portrayal of the way people really are. And with the background implications, its kind of nice to find someone who is still capable of humor. Too many people assume that molestation by a family member results in a malformed person, rather than someone who learns to function in spite of it. I personally liked the way you approached it and wouldn’t change anything in the balance of humor/seriousness. It really makes an excellent story. And with Maggie’s resourcefulness, it really adds a neat dimension.”
Actually, the reviewer got the part of the story wrong about the donut doorlock. It’s not used by realtors at all. And my friend on the discussion thread assumes that Maggie was abused by a family member but it’s never clear about her childhood abuse. That will be dealt with in the next book in the series, Shampoo and Condition.
Anyway, she urged me to try to market the book not as a humorous novel but a serious one with humorous overtones. As I said in my last posting, there’s some great advice on the ABNA threads.