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Motherhood is Murder    by Mary Daheim, Carolyn Hart & Shirley Rousseau Murphy order for
Motherhood is Murder
by Mary Daheim
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

There are four short stories in this anthology which, as the title suggest, features four moms as amateur detectives. Mary Daheim's Dial M for Mom stars Cousin Renie, a secondary character in Daheim's popular B&B mystery series. This time, instead of being an adjunct to her cousin Judith, Renie finds herself a mystery of her own. Her three children are all getting married on the same day, preparations are giving Renie headaches, and the prospect of her children leaving causes this devoted mom heartache. A mysterious stranger keeps appearing, but can only be seen in photographs, and then the wedding photographer ends up dead just before the wedding. Can a harried mom solve the mystery before it's too late? This story is charming and not at all easy to guess.

In Mothers Must Do, Carolyn Hart of Death on Demand fame, lets madcap mother-in-law Laurel Darling take a turn at investigative chores. When a person ends up dead on the porch of her best friend, a composed Laurel quickly concocts a plan to move the body and thus spare them an investigation. But, her ever curious nature engaged, she continues digging on her own. Lying frequently and cheerfully, using her beauty as a tool when needed, and piecing together scattered clues, the serene Laurel sets about solving a muddled mystery. This tale is too smooth for words, with Laurel as an inventive and utterly delightful detective. Next, Jane Isenberg's Proof is in the Patch has menopausal teacher/mother Bel Barrett trying to solve a bizarre murder case. Bel is deeply shocked when she learns that her most promising young student, Ria Seth, was found strangled. Bel instantly sidelines worries about her estrogen patch and starts nosing about with surprising results. Grandmotherly Bel's detecting instincts are right on the mark.

Shirley Rousseau Murphy, whose Joe Grey mysteries are simply the cat's meow, enchants again in uncanny feline mystery Tomcat. It is set in the small town of Greeley whose cats seem to outnumber people. When a young woman goes missing, her best friend is worried sick. Florie Mae is also concerned about her young children, her two cats and their young kittens. When she and her friend Martha set a trap to catch a dangerous tomcat, they are surprised at the result. This slinky, sly mystery is filled with danger and is the most intriguing of the lot. On the whole, this anthology does not disappoint and will make a charming addition to the bookshelves.

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