A Women on Fire Mystery by Eleanor Sullo
Review: The Women on Fire — five menopausal amateur sleuths in Connecticut — can't believe their friend Judith Becker is dead, and visit the Golden Age Haven nursing home where she lived to learn more in Harem, the second mystery in this series by Eleanor Sullo.
The Golden Age Haven isn't unknown to the women's group (which consists of Lucia, Ada, Hannah, Dorie, and Megan). Lucia's mother-in-law, Nonna, lives there and is forever regaling her with stories of the nightly activities — and Judy was her roommate. Now Lucia wonders if Nonna may have given some indication that something may have been amiss in the home, a story that Lucia wrote off as the rambling of an old person and only half-heard anyway. It isn't long after the women arrive at Golden Age Haven when they learn Judy's death is suspicious, and that everyone at the home — including Nonna — is a suspect. The Women on Fire decide to investigate on their own to identify who may have wanted Judy Becker dead.
Sullo writes in a light, breezy manner, and there is a lot of humor in Harem, if not much mystery, which tends to rely far more on character than plot to move the story forward. But it is also the "character" that presents the biggest challenge here. The chapters alternate between the six women's point-of-views, yet all are written in first person. And even though the chapter headings indicate the speaker to follow, after a while, it's hard to know (or remember) who the "I" is in the narrative. To the reader, the women as individuals quickly tend to blur into the women as a group — which may have been intentional on the part of the author, given that they are amateur sleuths in the collective for this series. True, each has her own personal side story to contribute, but because of the close relationship between the women, these, too, eventually seem to blend together and fail to be a distinguishing feature.
Acknowledgment: Eleanor Sullo provided a copy of Harem for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Harem: Connecticut
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Harem by Eleanor Sullo — A Women on Fire Mystery
Publisher: Wings ePress
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2010
List Price: $17.95