book review: Maggie Dove by Susan Breen

I keep hoping that I’ll get a good mystery book to read as part of the Monthly Mystery package through Chatterbox.  So far, I got one that was okay because the author imitated Stephanie Plum.

This is yet another mystery through Chatterbox that I can’t bring myself to recommend to anyone.  The plot itself was okay, but it wasn’t enough to save this book.  A 60-something-year-old woman has a disagreement with her neighbor about her oak tree and the neighbor ends up dead.  Then, one of her closest friends also ends up dead and the autopsy reports show that both of them died of the same cause.

The biggest problem I had with this book is that the main character, Maggie Dove, was judgmental, hypocritical, and just all around annoying.  She was a Sunday school teacher and tried to convince herself that she was a good person, but she didn’t seem to get along with anyone, even the people to whom she was supposedly closest.  For example, she constantly argued with one of her closest friends, Winifred.  The way the arguments unfolded in the book revealed how Maggie was both prissy and judgmental.  She claimed to love “Peter” but basically described him as a troublemaker. She was constantly above everyone else.  She describes another “friend,” Agnes, whom she was cruel to when she was younger.  When another character compared her to Agnes, she became offended and the reader was subjected to a paragraph about how she was so much better looking than Agnes. The author made was very clear that Maggie was part of the popular crowd when she was younger and she is much more beautiful than her friends.  Of course, she’s rich, too. This is the character that has it all – looks, money, “friends,” – she’s better than all of us!  Quite frankly, the more I read, the less I liked Maggie, not because of the author’s generous endowments, but because of the little that she did with those endowments and her petty mindedness, which the reader was subjected to for over 200 pages .  Agnes and Winifred seemed like much more interesting (and likeable) characters.

There were a few interesting characters in this book so it wasn’t a total loss.  It’s just too bad that the focus was on the annoying one rather than the interesting ones.

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