Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: Formula for Murder

Summary: Sleuth and first-time mom Kate Connolly and her baby are the victims of a hit-and-run, but escape unharmed. A witness identifies the car's French diplomatic license plates, yet when Kate and her hubby try to get some answers, they get le cold shoulder. But there's something going on at the French consulate that's dirtier-and far deadlier-than any diaper. -- Berkley

A few years ago, I discovered a cute new cozy called BUNDLE OF TROUBLE by Diana Orgain - you can read my review here. Then the following year, I enjoyed MOTHERHOOD IS MURDER (my review), and I was happy to see that the second book in this series lived up to my expectations. And now, the third book in the Maternal Instincts Mystery series FORMULA FOR MURDER is available; and I can definitely say that this series is a winner. These books are perfect for moms or anyone who enjoys a good cozy.

I really enjoyed FORMULA FOR MURDER, and I actually thought the mystery was a little stronger in this novel than the prior two. I think the author could spend less time introducing the characters and more time developing the mystery; and as a result, I was kept guessing until the very end. In this novel, Kate and Laurie are heading out for Laurie's Christmas photo shoot, when their car is hit by a hit-and-run driver. A witness identifies the car as a French diplomat based on the license plates, so Kate and her husband head to the embassy for some answers. Unfortunately, their visit just leads to more questions. And things get very interesting when a star television reporter is found dead along with another suspicious death.

Besides the mystery, the characters in this novel are pretty likable. I do find myself wanting to shake Kate at times for the risks she takes as a new mom; however, if she didn't, there wouldn't be much of a story! I think many new moms will relate to some of Kate's worries as a new mother. For example, Kate's concerns about  Laurie after the accident, her guilt for feeding the baby formula, etc. In addition, I can relate to Kate's obsessions with lists (although I do think I'm a little better at managing mine!) One running theme throughout this entire series is Kate's to-do lists which appear at the beginning of some of the chapters. I love how she not only keeps these lists, but also how she is constantly revising them.

Because it seems like there are so many of you out there who feel like you need to read an entire series in order, I want to tell you that this book does work as a stand-alone. In fact, Laurie is still only a few months old in FORMULA FOR MURDER so you won't be missing out on a lot of character development or life events. The author does a great job of filling in necessary details from the earlier books, but honestly, there aren't that many with this series.

(This is a little aside, but I used to think I couldn't start a series part way through; and then I realized that I've been missing out on a lot of great books with this mentality. I want to assure you that you can pick up a series in the middle, and most of the time the author will provide the past details for you! And guess what.... I've found that if I enjoyed the book and the characters, I can always go back and read the earlier works. The world will not end if I read a series out of order!!!)

FORMULA FOR MURDER, and really the entire Maternal Instincts Mystery series, would make a great Mother's Day gift. These books are perfect for new moms who can't take the time to read a long, complex story yet are looking for a few hours of entertainment!

Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! It's appearing one day early this week because I have a scheduled tour for tomorrow. Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

what do you mean, so many who feel the need to read a series in order, ha ha! this sounds good, i love when i am kept guessing till the end!

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

I am an out of order kind of gal -- good to know :) :)

bermudaonion said...

This series sounds like so much fun!

I do like to read series in order, but also agree that when a series is well written, it doesn't matter.

Unknown said...

I never thought I could read a series out of order - until I was reading a book a few months ago and the man next to me said, "Oh! Is that the new Tim Dorsey series?" I said, "SERIES?!?" He filled me in on all I missed. I realized that 1. I still enjoyed the book even if it was #6 2. I wanted to go back and read the others...maybe in order...maybe not!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

These sounds so good! I have read series backwards (not intentionally) but it still worked for me :)

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I normally have to read things in order, but recently I've read the newest Kate Atkinson book Started Early, Took My Dog, and The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman- both books from series I have never read. And I loved both books very much- so I may have to re-think some of my strict rules on not reading things out of order. :)

Anonymous said...

huh! I didn't even know that this series existed. It looks just darling. Guess I'll have to go start at the beginning. Fun stuff!