Review: Murder Among Us

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Twin Lakes will never be the same since Lydia Krause moved in. Thinking she would start socializing at a simple Bingo night would change everything not only for her but those living in this Twin Lakes Retirement Community. Coming smack dab in her face is Marshal Weill/Warren Manes a total embezzler, crook, and thief who stole hard earned money from not only her sister but many others too.

So, in would the homeowners association hire this man as their financial planner? Why, would anyone defend him when she, Lydia Krause was enlightening them, of course quite publically, to the chagrin of many present and of course his dear wife Claire.

Claire seems like a devoted wife and comes to her husband’s defense when he would rather her not get involved. Trying in his own sleek way to divert attention from himself and claim mistaken identity, Claire in her naivety, spills the beans letting everyone know Lydia definitely has the right person and for the right reasons. But, dear Claire loves her cheating, embezzler husband and thinks he should be forgiven and his past put just there in the past. So, Lydia, although some think she is right, learns that others feel her public outburst in poor taste exists the bingo hall only to run into Barbara Taylor in the ladies room. Poor Barbara is ill and not sure from what so Lydia, being kind and considerate accompanies her home, leaves her car at the hall and spends the night taking care of who would soon be a close and dear friend.

But, things have just started to heat up for poor Lydia as she returns home to find her brand new Lexus seriously damaged and reports it to the police. Well, if this isn’t bad enough the young officer that takes her personal statement enlightens her as to where her car has been and who the victim of the attack was. You see, someone took her car key and drove her car right into dear Claire ending her life. Now, the fun and mayhem will begin as Lydia becomes suspect number one, Peg her neighbor and many others wish she would never have moved there and she decides to do some digging herself to solve the murder.

Watch out Patterson you are not the only one with your very own Detective or Amateur Murder Club. Meet Lydia, Barbara and Caroline who ban together, put together the evidence, decide on what information needs to be uncovered and hopefully solve the case before the police even realize what they are doing. But, Lydia is relentless and will not give up until she gets answers. Following the style of Jessica Fletcher or even Hetty Wainthropp played by Patricia Routledge, Lydia digs too deep into Claire’s murder, her past, her husband’s philandering and endangers her own life. One swim in the indoor pool was supposed to discourage her but did not.

Added into the mix are the many women having affairs in this novel. Viv McQuire and the victim’s husband did the horizontal mambo and Lydia has the pictures to prove it. Meredith her daughter is acting strange and she is sure that she is cheating her on husband too.

Joining forces with Lieutenant Molina and her friends Lydia hopes to clear her own name and find out who wanted poor innocent Claire dead. Did Marshall stand to inherit tons of money? Did she leave it to her children from her first marriage? Who would profit from her death?  Would one of his lovers, Marshall or someone else?

Marshall is what we call a real goniff in more ways than one. Embezzling is just one of his forays and womanizer more aptly describes the other. He is so smooth and slick he even justifies his actions and some of the residents actually buy his act. So, why is it that Lydia Krause is the only one that stands up to this weasel with no holds barred? Now, you would think that all of these people who worked hard for many years, saved up to move into this high-end community would think twice, do some research and check out someone before giving them access to their funds and finances.

If all this is not bad enough poor Lydia is beginning to think that her life revolves around being a glorified babysitter for her grandchildren and nosing around to find out who killed Claire. But, if you think nothing else can happen to make matters worse you are wrong. Lydia decides to take a part time job and relieve her stress by working and getting out much to the chagrin of her daughter.

Just as Lydia is about to get into a normal routine Meredith asks her to sit for her two daughters not thinking she might see her car parked in front of number 78. Why is she there and who owns that unit? Well! Definitely not a female that’s for sure. The plot is about to thicken because the killer is far from done.

As Lydia begins continues her own brand of investigation she meets Doris Fein who divulges over tea and carrot cake some interesting information about Claire and her relationship with Marshall. Not mincing her words she confronts Marshall during a phone call and the truth behind her sister’s suicide is revealed and Lydia faces some harsh realities surrounding her death. Now, I bet you are wondering what she learned and what Marshall told her about his relationship with Allison, well I am certainly not going to divulge that after all I would be considered a Yenta and you would not have the fun of finding out for yourself.  No spoilers in this review.

Lydia and Detective Molina seems to get along and he begins to realize that she is someone special. But, things heat up at a homeowners board meeting, some think Marshall should leave Twin Lakes, others not but when Doris Fein confronts Marshall about her financial woes due to his poor advice, just how does she wind up victim number two of our clever killer?

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company except in Twin Lakes. As Lydia joins Meredith and her family that day one man’s arrival would change the complexion of the entire afternoon, brings suspicion upon him for Claire’s use of herbal capsules and cinch in Lydia’s mind the dangers our supplements, the naivety of most people and the lengths many women will go to in order to look younger. As Lydia learns the truth behind Merry’s friendship with this man, the pieces might fall into place. Is someone trying to frame Marshall and making him look guilty and disturbed by Lydia’s interference in the investigation.

How this all plays out you won’t believe. Why is Merry so unhappy in her marriage and what is Lydia going to do to repair that? What happens when she finds out her other daughter is about to get married and move to England? Just how much more can she take and will she decide to leave this retirement community before someone else is killed or will she remain even though some would rather see her go? Will she pursue a relationship with Detective Molina or just focus on getting her own life on track and her family’s too?

There are many issues that come to light in this murder/ mystery. One that is front and center is the importance of not taking supplements or any drugs without doing the research, making sure they are FDA approved, checking with your doctor first and seeing how these capsules or supplements interact with your other medications and of course the cost. Betrayals are widespread. The green eyed jealous monster is at the center of much of this novel, as Marshall Weill seems to have too many women mesmerized but why?

But, despite Molina’s warnings our Lydia seems bent on finding out who killed Claire, what really happened to Doris when she overhears a conversation between Marshall and a member of the board that not only infuriates her but lets her know that he’s still up to his own tricks and much more even at the expense of those living in the retirement community. But, the killer is wise and one more murder, yes you heard me one more: you guessed it Marshall overstayed his welcome and had to be eliminated. Poor Viv would be heartbroken and the entire community on the alert as someone is out to kill anyone that interferes with his/her plans. Just why did Doris die? Was it murder or the capsules she was taking to look younger? Who killed Claire, Marshall and one photographer that was always nosing around?

Barbara, Caroline and the women’s club each speculating and coming up with their own conclusions. One marriage that needs more than just a band-aid to repair the open wounds. One woman named Lydia who just wanted to start over but instead started up a chain of events that would rock the inner core of one retirement community, change many lives and hopefully improve her own. An ending that will surprise the reader and a killer that well you never can tell who your friends are can you? Revenge is sweet only if you don’t get caught.

Characters that you will either love or hate. A man who never thought his deeds would catch up with him and one woman who just wanted to make things right for everyone. Author Marilyn Levinson has a winner here and let’s hope she brings Lydia, Barbara, Caroline and one hunk detective named Sol Molina back again to solve another mystery in Twin Lakes.

Author Marilyn Levinson
Fran Lewis: Reviewer

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