Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hot & Bothered: Review

Thanks to the Follow That Blurb Reading Challenge I have discovered a new academic mystery series starring tenured professor Bel Barrett and her mid-life detective sidekicks. In Hot & Bothered by Jane Isenberg citizens of Hoboken, New Jersey are trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the horrifying attacks on the World Trade Center. Bel is determined to continue life as before and not to live in fear. As she moves on with her life, she is bothered by a seemingly never-ending kitchen renovation and dismayed to find herself coping with her partner Sol's steady disintegration from post traumatic stress. There is also the annual neighborhood block party to plan, arguments to settle over the disbursement of a local scholarship, and her new Faculty Development Seminar to organize and run. Then one of her colleagues and fellow scholarship judge is found stabbed to death. Eunice Goodson was a young, promising new instructor at the River Edge Community College in Jersey City and a member of Bel's seminar. She was also moonlighting as an exotic dancer at a club in Manhattan.

With a police force still coping with the aftermath of 9/11 as well as many false alarms over anthrax and other terrorist "sightings," little time is given to the death of a stripper. And the cops seem ready to take an easy suspect--the disgruntled young woman who did not receive the scholarship and who believes Eunice was to blame.
Bel is determined to seek the truth--not only because she wants her friend's killer caught and doesn't want an innocent girl charged with the crime, but also because Sol is taking an interest and she hopes it will help him with recovery. With the help of her friends--Illuminada Guttierez, a private detective, and Betty Ramsey, the Executive Assistant to RECC's president--Bel begins examining Eunice's connections both at school and in the city. Their search will lead them to a clergyman with a secret, a sister with a problem, a jealous scheduler at the club, a faculty member doing a little extra "research" at the cub, and a neighbor who may not be what he seems.

This was a fun, fast read. Very likeable characters and even though I've managed to dive in right in the middle, I felt right at home with Bel and her friends. Having a loved one who has gone through post traumatic stress, it was easy to sympathize with Bel and Sol and the struggles they faced. This made the characters very real to me. The mystery was complex enough to keep me interested...although the solution seemed a bit forced. A few more clues dropped along the way would have helped. But overall, a good solid mystery. Three and a half stars.

This also counts as my "Blurb" entry for the Take a Chance 3 Challenge.

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