Sunday, March 04, 2007

Deadly Advice - Roberta Isleib



Deadly Advice
An Advice Column Mystery
Roberta Isleib
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery

Rebecca Butterman is a clinical psychologist. She works as adjunct faculty at Yale, and also writes an online advice column. The advice column, currently being revamped and made “edgy” by a new editor, may not be glamorous, but it pays well. And the editor has just come up with a great idea. Rebecca, who writes under the name of “Dr. Aster,” will write a series of articles about the singles scene. Rebecca, recently divorced, is not too keen on this idea. Her first assignment is to attend a speed-dating event.

Adding to her unease is the fact that Madeline, her next-door neighbor in the condo complex, apparently committed suicide and wasn’t found for nearly two days. It’s unnerving that something like that could happen so close; and it’s doubly difficult for Rebecca, who feels guilty that she didn’t pick up on any warning signs. Madeline’s mother, distraught over her daughter’s death, begs Rebecca to look into it from a psychological standpoint. It quickly comes to light that one of the last places Madeline was seen was at a speed-dating event. Against her better judgment, Rebecca soon finds herself embroiled in an investigation that will take her places she never wanted to go.

The first in a very promising new series, this mystery introduces a very realistic and likeable main character. Rebecca is a practicing psychologist, and the author takes care to point out the highs and the lows of that profession. It makes sense that she would feel some guilt about not picking up on signs, and would feel compelled to help a grieving mother. There are several supporting characters, including friends and various residents of the condo complex. All of these are presented as three-dimensional individuals. There are plenty of suspects and a lot of secrets in Madeline’s life, making the outcome uncertain until the stunning final scenes. Some aspects of this novel may be a bit much for some cozy readers, but I found it fascinating, and I’m looking forward to more in this series.

Rating: 8
March 2007
ISBN# 0-425-21474-5 (paperback)

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