Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reads: Sweetheart Deal by Claire Matturro

A while back I found myself at loose ends between books and in the New Books section at the library. We stop for the obligatory plug for the Sarasota Library System. Anyway, I spotted a book titled Bone Valley. Reading the inside flap, I realized it was set in Sarasota, so I had to check it out. I remember liking it, so this week I picked up Sweetheart Deal by the same author.

Although this one starts out in Sarasota, most of it takes place in Bugfest, GA. I leave it to the reader to imagine the locale. There, it takes on the overtones of the daughter of the Deep South whodunits, complete with oddball relatives and ne'er do well, slightly felonious neighbors, like those of the Carolyn Haines "Southern Belle" mysteries. (If you haven't read these and like mysteries, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. They're well-written and fun.)

The plot is nicely constructed and unravels slowly. Her character, Lilly, the sophisticated Florida lawyer saves the day despite being assaulted by murderers, mosquitos, and Southern cooking. My only complaint about the book concerns her fixation with healthy food. By the end of the book, her culinary travails have become amusing. But there's something forced about their introduction in the beginning.

Overall, I enjoyed it, especially when Lilly ponders the following:

Well, that was an old story, those who wanted to hold on to what was versus those who wanted something new. Everybody in the country could talk it to death if they wanted to, but I'd seen what had happened in Sarasota, and knew in the end there wasn't any stopping of the development.


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