Murder Can Crash Your Party is the first Selma Eichler novel I've read, actually, and it was so enjoyable that I'll undoubtedly get to her other novels sitting on my bookshelves sooner than I'd originally planned so I can get me some more of the thoroughly delightful, not-at-all-what-one-would-expect PI, Desiree Shapiro. Honestly, this book rates right up there with the very best I've read so far in 2008, due, in large measure, to Ms. Eichler's very likable, indomitable, real-life, less-than-perfect, girl-next-door heroine.
In this particular outing, Ms. Eichler uses an interesting plot technique to drive the story - a mystery within a mystery, if you will. I found it exceedingly effective at building and releasing tension throughout the entire book.
Desiree is invited to speak at a mystery writer's conference and afterwards is approached by a romance novelist with a strange but intriguing challenge - one that Desiree accepts readily. While Desiree is involved in a few small distractions throughout the book - reminding us that she is, in fact, a real (fictional) PI with a real (fictional) life - the main story revolves around a manuscript of a murder mystery written by the somewhat eccentric romance novelist and the challenge said novelist presents.
This book has it all: a well-conceived mystery, a believable (and quite likable) heroine, an interesting (and complex) cast of characters, riddles, romance, wonderful writing, and excellent editing (although awhile is one word, regardless of what one's spellchecker might have one believe). I don't know how I managed to miss this series all these years, but I plan to make up for lost time by getting my hands on as many of the Desiree Shapiro books as I can! If you haven't already, I recommend you do the same.
Carol Ann H. 6/22/2008