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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review: Dead Air by Mary Kennedy

Today I am reviewing a new book out for Cozy mystery fans.  This is a brand new series by Obsidian set in warm and sunny Florida with a radio psycholigist as the main character.  See what you think and leave a comment.

Author: Mary Kennedy

Copyright: 2010 (Obsidian/Signet); 300 pgs.
Series: 1st book in the new Talk Radio Mysteries
Sensuality: mild references

Mystery sub-genre: Cozy
Main Character: Maggie Walsh, recently left a psychologist practice in NY for a radio talk show in Florida – “On The Couch With Maggie Walsh”
Setting: Cypress Grove Florida
Obtained book through: publisher

If you are concerned that the main character being a psychologist would make this more of a clinical mystery or psychological thriller, fear not. This is a light beach read, not heavy in the psychology. The author’s favorite bit of psychology seems to be Freud’s “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Maggie is still settling into her radio talk show position and the station manager lined up a new age personality “Guru Sanjay” for Maggie to interview. No connection there to psychology, but the station manager thought it would help ratings. When the Guru is later found dead with murder a possibility, the police think Maggie’s roommate, Lark, is the prime suspect. Maggie immediately starts poking around and finds there are plenty of people who would have liked to see the Guru dead. From his ex-wife or current business manager, to the woman who claims the Guru destroyed her daughter, or the people who got devastated by the Guru’s real estate scam there is no shortage of people who despised the man. She soon experiences break-ins and threats to her life to get her to stop her sleuthing.

Maggie’s over-the-top aging B-movie actress mother Lola (who steals every scene with her people reading skills, talk radio flair, undercover capabilities – even hypnosis ability for resurrecting memories) joins Maggie in her sleuthing efforts. She is also aided by the local newspaper reporter sharing information with her in order to clear Lark. A minor character worth mentioning is the talk show producer, Vera Mae who is spunky and quirky.
“So the way I look at it, men are like shoes,” Lola was saying twenty minutes later in her smoky, theatrical voice. “They may look adorable, but if they don’t fit in the beginning, they’ll never fit right. Nothing you do will help. You’ll curse the day you saw them. I’m afraid the only thing to do, sweetie, is to toss them out and find yourself a new pair.” She gave a musical little laugh and paused for a beat. “Does that answer your question, Naomi?”

“It sure does, Miss Lola. Men are like shoes. Gee, I’ve never looked at it quite that way before.”

I bet, I said silently. It was annoying to admit, but all my years of psychological training couldn’t match my mother in action – she was a huge success with the audience. Warm, accessible, and witty, she managed to make an immediate connection with each listener. How did she pull it off?

I was in awe – and green with envy. Maybe it was her acting ability, maybe she was genuinely empathic, but Lola was a hit.

If anyone was measuring her Q score that day, it would have been off the charts.

Meanwhile, my loyal followers were deserting me in droves. After the first few minutes, they didn’t bother directing their questions to me; they turned to Lola for help with their problems.
Although a perfectly wonderful man, Ted, who runs the Seabreeze B&B next door to her condo is actively interested in Maggie, she only seems interested in dark bad boy types. So the serious, tight-lipped investigating detective, Rafe Martino, is the one her pulse races for. I couldn’t help but feel for the nice guy left out in the cold. In fact, when she isn’t poking around asking questions, Maggie can’t seem to stop thinking about the brooding detective and whether he likes her.

The plot was on par for a cozy mystery and the tension was maintained throughout. The story moved along quiet well. The “big reveal” of the murderer was handled nicely with some tense, suspenseful moments. It has plenty to offer the cozy fan and is a nice debut novel.

It is stuffed with pop culture references liberally thrown about (Dr. Phil, Conan O’Brien, Idiot’s Guide, Marge Simpson, IKEA furniture, Patricia Arquette and the show Medium, Starship Enterprise, Celine Dion, John Travolta and the movie Backdraft, Kevin Costner, Rosie O’Donnell, The Sopranos, The Wizard of Oz, Forrest Gump, Woody Allen, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, Dunkin Donuts coffee, TV Shows Law and Order and CSI, Coach designer bags, Tommy Bahama clothes, Glenn Close and the movie Fatal Attraction, Billy Joel, Reeboks, Oprah, Gilligan’s Island, Mark Wahlberg, “Photoshopped”, Madonna, Turner Classic Movies, Chunky Monkey ice cream, Clairol Blissfully Blonde hair dye, Sally Hansen Lip Plumpers, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Victoria’s Secret, Ricky Martin, The O.C., One Tree Hill, Horatio on CSI Miami, Krispy Kreme donuts, Jay Leno plus many, many more.) I found all the pop culture references too much and distracting after awhile, like a short cut rather than a thoughtful description. That may just bother me and not faze others.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Until next Monday, I wish you many mysterious moments.
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Kaye said...

That's definitely a daunting list of distractions.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I love cozy mysteries. I will look into it.


Bernadette said...

WOW what a list of pop culture references...until then I thought it sounded OK but I'll skip it after that list. I know it shouldn't but it does bug me when books are so full of that kind of stuff - I don't even know what half those things are and that always bugs me more when reading as my mind tends to wander off thinking "now what is that...a TV show? a pop singer...gosh I am old and not American..." and I've lost a couple of pages at least.

A.F. Heart said...

At first I wasn't going to mention all the pop culture references, but then I felt it was only fair to warn people in case it makes a difference. I just flipped through the first few chapters and put together that list. It is rather sad that it "dates" the book too. The reference to Conan O'Brien makes the book out-of-date already since Conan isn't on late night anymore - and the book was released Jan 5.

Thanks for the comments everyone.
AF Heart

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