Jeanne of the BPL is back today with another treadmill books Guest Post. Yea! This one came out last summer and the next one in the series drops on March 26, 2019.
Murder on Memory Lake by J.D. Griffo
|Large Print Paperback|
Alberta Scaglione is a feisty Italian grandmother whose life has had its share of hard knocks. Then, a miracle: her spinster aunt dies and leaves her a fortune and a lovely house overlooking a lake. Alberta moves in and is enjoying the good life—until she finds a body in the lake. And it’s not just any body—it belongs to Lucy Agnostino, who tormented Alberta all through school and who, given a choice, would probably have wanted to be murdered on Alberta’s lake just for spite.
But was it murder or an accidental drowning? Alberta is convinced it was the latter, because Lucy is dressed in a navy blue suit, a color she wouldn’t –well, be caught dead in.
I was quite taken with the book at the start. It is very funny, and I liked the idea of a multigenerational cozy. Alberta’s granddaughter, Jinx is a young reporter with a local paper who wants to get to know her grandmother. Alberta and her daughter, Jinx’s mother, became estranged years ago and Jinx grew up far from the rest of the family. The investigative quartet is rounded out with Alberta’s sister, Helen, a former nun with little patience for foolishness, and Joyce, a sister in law who retired from investment banking with a lot of money and a yen to become a painter.
The book is very Italian, with multiple characters spouting Italian proverbs, much Italian food, quite a bit of Italian attitude. It was a refreshing change from the everyman sort of cozies I’ve been reading, where the stories are often set in Anytown, USA. One running gag has Jinx trying to update the family’s traditional and beloved dishes with healthy alternatives, with little success. After tasting a risotto made with couscous, Aunt Helen says it “tastes like the Eucharist without any of the hope.” (Later, Helen complains about what Jinx is wearing to a funeral home. Alberta says that God must like fancy, because to look at some of the priests’ robes it’s as if Liberace was leading mass. “If only Jesus could just pack a house like Liberace used to do,” replies Helen.)
It was also a lot of fun to have mostly older main characters who are lively, interesting, and determined. They also drink a lot of flavored vodka.
I’ll admit to a little bit of disappointment after the opening pages. I was looking forward to a strong contrast between a young woman and an older one, but at times I found Alberta behaving more like the stereotypical young cozy heroine than the older, savvier lady she seemed at first. That role is taken over by Helen, who may be my favorite character. Joyce is no slouch, either. I laughed a lot while reading this.
My only other nitpick was that at times the author worked too hard to come up with synonyms for “said.” People comment, lecture, question, theorize, state, disclose, translate—well, you get the idea. It wasn’t all through the book, just a few passages.
If you like cozies, this is a very promising new series. I’m certainly looking forward to the next in the Ferrara Family Mysteries, Murder in Tranquility Park.