Destination: Suburban Philadelphia and rural New Jersey
Jill Farrow, suburban mom and heroine of Come Home, needs to work on her impulse control. On the other hand, if she stopped and thought about it before jumping in a car to chase a bad guy, this would be a pretty boring book, so I can forgive the author, who definitely knows her way around a suspenseful plot. Lisa Scottoline has produced eighteen award-and-reader-winning mystery novels. Judging by this book, Scottoline has a great sense of humor, has learned a thing or two about complex family relationships, and loves animals.
Checking Scottoline’s website, I learned that she does indeed love animals, and she firmly believes in “write what you know,” which explains the Philadelphia suburban setting, since that is where she lives. New Jersey farmland plays a part, as does Manhattan. Since my experience of New Jersey is mostly on the north-south freeway glimpsing a lot of industrial stuff, I’m always intrigued by the more bucolic view of New Jersey.
Although the lead character in this mystery is a Mom, divorced with a live-in boyfriend for romantic interest, and the most important other characters are her daughter and two ex-stepdaughters, the novel manages to rise above Chick Lit. The fact that Scottoline writes a humor column for the Philadelphia Inquirer called Chick Wit shows that she doesn’t shy away from being an author who talks about relationships from a feminine point of view. At the same time it deals with those family matters, though, Come Home, becomes a more and more complex mystery involving far more than a supposed murder.
The title led me to jump to the conclusion that this was an abducted-child novel destined for a movie starring Liam Neeson. But that’s not the meaning. Briefly, Jill’s ex-husband has been found dead and her older teen ex-step daughter, who lived with the now-dead dad, suspects murder. Since said ex-stepdaughter is a general screw-up, nobody believes her. But Jill, ever the caring mother figure, wanting to help the screwed-up teen, plunges in to a murder investigation. Jill, by the way, is a pediatrician, another outlet for her maternal urges, and while she likens solving a potential crime to diagnosing an illness, she is in no way qualified as a criminal investigator. Her jump into this new pursuit threatens her relationship with the fiancé and with her pre-teen daughter. It also rubs salt in the wounds of old divorce scars when she has to deal with the older of the two stepdaughters.
Suspense builds nicely as Jill ignores the police, her fiancé, and common sense because she reasons that once a mother, always a mother and she has to help. And this is a thoroughly modern Mom, dependent on Smart Phones, laptops and GPS systems. (One wonders what the shelf-life of a book is these days, when technology changes by the hour.)
Ken and I like to listen to audio books when we go on a road trip. We can stop at a Cracker Barrel restaurant along the highway and pick one out, then return it to the same or a different Cracker Barrel whenever we finish listening. I make that sound so easy, but the hard part is “pick one out”. For two people who have traveled together for decades, we have startlingly different tastes in literature. They charge your credit card for the entire amount, but when you return the recording, they refund all but $3.49 per week charge. For those of you lucky enough to be traveling through Cracker Barrel territory, I’m happy to report that on our last visit, we discovered that they had seriously enlarged and upgraded their collection of audio books.
Of course, you can also drop by your local library and check out an audio book, although our library, at least, tends to really classic classics–in other word OLD stuff–so it is a bit more difficult to find something light enough to keep you entertained on the brain-numbing freeway. Finally, you can purchase an audio book, and I just have to put in a plug here for MacMillan Audio, who have sent me several audio books that are absolutely perfect for travelers.
Come Home makes great listening, partly because of a bang-up job by reader Maggi-Meg Reed. But I’m sure that the print versions are fun, too. And if you like this book, its nice to know that there are so many other Scottoline novels waiting for you.
Disclaimers: MacMillan Audio provided me with the 11-CD set of Come Home for review. But my opinions are strictly my own. Links here to Amazon.com enable to shop and support A Traveler’s Library, because we are an Amazon affiliate. Doesn’t cost you any more but it does help us. THANKS!