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Sweetheart Deal    by Claire Matturro order for
Sweetheart Deal
by Claire Matturro
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Pat Elliott

A phone call from her brother Dan (the good one) brings Lilly up short. Their mother has been charged with murder. Lilly and brother Delvon were the bad ones. They escaped Bugfest, Georgia, early on, leaving Dan to care for their reclusive mother. Does the name Bugfest give you any idea how this novel plays out?

Lilly bundles up her phobias and reluctantly returns home to Bugfest (where people still call her Lilly Belle Rose) to find her mother, Willette Clearly, nearly comatose with bruises on her face and a police guard in front of her hospital room door. Attorney-at-law Lilly Clearly has questions but no one has answers - not her brother or his wife Patti, not Lilly's high school friend Shalonda, not the doctor or Willette's friend Eleanor.

Willette's room is filled with flowers and pound cake. Grateful citizens of Bugfest are bringing her gifts because she supposedly killed the one person everyone in town wanted dead. But one person doesn't want Willette to regain consciousness - the red ants in her bed are plainly an attempt on her life.

Lilly's investigations lead her to Willette's old friend Jubal and his son Hank. Jubal thinks Hank would be a great husband for Lilly. The hospital administrator is very accommodating to Lilly only after she agrees to go out with him. And it seems that Lilly's nephew Bobby and his girl friend Becky have the key to the whole mystery - but they were somewhere they weren't supposed to be.

Kidnapping, murder, drugs and illegal imports, along with energetic, comically wacky characters make Sweetheart Deal a fast paced, suspenseful read. Matturro has also written Bone Valley, Wildcat Wine and Skinny-dipping.

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