Monday, September 5, 2016

Review of "Murder as a Second Language" by Joan Hess




In this 19th book in the series Claire Molloy, bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, recently married Deputy Chief Peter Rosen of the Farberville Police Department. They live in a lovely home with Claire's college-bound daughter Caron. Caron and her pal Inez plan to pad their college applications by volunteering at the Farberville Literary Council (FLC), which teaches English as a second language (ESL) to immigrants. Claire, now having a manager for her bookstore, agrees to help out at the FLC as well. 

There are a host of employees, volunteers, and students at the FLC - and as happens with a diverse group of people - all kinds of sparks fly. Before long the dead body of an unpleasant, bullying Polish ESL student named Ludmilla is found in the copy room of the FLC - and against the wishes of her husband Claire jumps in to investigate. 

Claire's attempt to solve the crime involves questioning people involved with the FLC again and again. She talks to them on the school's premises, in restaurants, and at their homes. Claire even breaks into one employee's house when she doesn't happen to be at home. It seems like almost everyone at the FLC has things to hide and Claire is followed and threatened as she pursues the murderer. 

Unfortunately the various 'suspects' in the book are not very interesting or distinctive, the interrogations go on and on, and the story becomes tiresome. Meanwhile, who knows what the actual police are doing because they don't seem to make any progress in solving the crime. 

The story is punctuated by various snarky conversations between Claire and Caron - typical mom and teen daughter stuff - which are meant to be humorous but aren't. Claire also has intermittent interactions with Peter, some romantic, some about Claire sticking her nose in police business when she shouldn't. Of course Claire eventually solves the crime but by then I didn't care much who did it. I was just glad to be finished with the book. Unless you're a hard core fan of the Claire Molloy series and want to see what the characters are up to I'd say skip this book.

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