Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib
Like yesterday's book, Rotten to the Core by Sheila Connolly, Roberta Isleib's third Advice Column Mystery, Asking for Murder, has a gorgeous, appropriate cover. This is another Berkley Prime Crime book, with a wonderful illustrator. Brandon Dorman did this one, and it fits the book.
I have a harder time with Dr. Rebecca Butterman, a clinical psychologist and advice columnist. However, I think the issues are just mine. In Asking for Murder, Rebeccaa's best friend misses their luncheon date, doesn't show up at her office, doesn't call, so Rebecca checks her home. That's where she finds Annabelle, in her bedroom, so badly beaten that by the time she's taken to the hospital, she's in a coma.
Was it Annabelle's work as a social worker that led to her beating? Was it something to do with her family, more dysfunctional that Rebeccaa knew? Or, was it a robbery gone bad? Rebeccaa is determined to find the answers since the police seem to consider the case solved.
Now, Rebeccaa has had a rough year, with two murders and a kidnapping. And, it would be natural for anyone to fall apart, finding their best friend like that. But, Rebecca seems to go overboard, for a psychologist. She takes it out on too many people, from other doctors, to the hospital staff, to her boyfriend, Bob. I tend to agree with her assessment of Bob's reaction. "Cheerful Bob with his functional family, on the other hand, takes everything in stride, and he interprets any emotional blip from me as a potential overreaction, if not a sign of unfolding hysterics." She was out of control in the hospital, when they wouldn't let her see Annabelle. (Surely a psychologist understands HIPAA.) She reminds herself not to be a drama queen, but she is. And, she acts childish when it comes to her personal relationships, falling for a married cop with a sick wife, and then driving by his house when he's not at work. This is a thirty-something psychologist, for pete's sake.
I have to give Rebeccaa credit for stepping in to try to help her friend, when no one else seemed to be there for her. The police closed the case, thinking it was a robbery gone bad. Rebecca had her doubts, and she continued to poke around, antagonizing everyone from Annabelle's boyfriend to Rebeccaa's boyfriend, and her ex-husband. But, she took on her friend's clients, meeting with those she could, in order to help Annabelle. She's a loyal friend, although I have my doubts as to her ability as a psychologist and advice columnist. In fact, the advice column just feels as if it's a hobby device for the cozy mystery.
Now, I'm going to be very honest, and say I think this might be just my dislike of Rebecca's behavior that frustrates me when I read these books. Other well-respected authors and reviewers have been quite complimentary about this series. Blurbs from Susan Wittig Albert, Armchair Interviews and Gumshoe Reviews refer to Rebecca as smart, sympathetic, and a professional who cares. Try, Asking for Murder yourself. It's your opinion that counts.
Roberta Isleib's website is www.robertaisleib.com
Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2008. ISBN 9780425223314(paperback), 239p.