The first word I would use to describe Maggie is "Mom." And since she's a professional organizer, the second word would be "organized." With a dead man in the basement and their new home being targeted for unknown reasons, she's still got to get stuff unpacked and her two sons as settled as is humanly possible. In between errands and trips back and forth to the boys' schools, Maggie makes the time and effort to get acquainted with her neighbors. This is when readers learn that Mary Feliz has created a multi-faceted cast that should work well in a long-running series (as I hope this will be). The author has also written a strong mystery with a fine sense of misdirection that kept me guessing throughout.
There are a lot of things that happen to Maggie's new home. A lot. Each chapter begins with a quote from her own professional organizing business, and these quotes make sense-- especially the ones that advise people to know when to ask for help. I only had one problem with Maggie asking for help. All those things that happen to Maggie's house need fixing. Many of them could be done by homeowners with time and varying amounts of elbow grease. With Max gone and all these crazy things going on, Maggie didn't have time so she pulled out her checkbook and had other people take care of everything. Why did I have a problem with that? Because most of us don't have checkbooks that can withstand one expensive hit after another. (Okay, color me envious and call it a day!)
And once you've called it a day, you'll find that I really enjoyed Address to Die For. I want to see that house get finished. I want to see how Maggie solves more mysteries once Max is back in town-- I already know she can take care of things on her own. I want to see her get her business up and running (because "organized" is a word that most people use to describe me). I like Mary Feliz's mystery and her characters, and I'll definitely be back for more!
Address to Die For by Mary Feliz is the first book in A Maggie McDonald Mystery series. Maggie McDonald and her family have picked up moved from Stockton to Orchard View, California (near Silicon Valley). Max (Maggie's hubby) inherited a beautiful old home from his Aunt Kay (a hundred year old California Craftsman). Max has fond memories of the house, barn, and property and is looking forward to moving in. Maggie is a professional organizer and believes she has everything in hand. Things do not go quite as planned (of course). Max goes down the basement to check on the electrical panel (the lights are not working) and stumbles over a pile (he thought it was laundry at first) at the bottom of the stairs. It turns out to be the dead body of the house's caretaker, Javier Hernandez (which explains the dilapidated condition of the house). The police investigate and discover that the electrical panel was rigged to cause a fire when the family started using the electricity. To top it off their moving truck has encountered problems and has been delayed. Thankfully, they can stay in the barn (while the police process the house) since it has electricity and full bathroom. Then Max gets a call from his new boss and finds out that he has to leave for India (for a few weeks) on Monday (it is Labor Day weekend). When it rains it pours. Can the things get any worse? The family takes a walk with their dog, Belle and upon their return the mailbox explodes (not from a bomb). It turns out that Javier reported several incidents of vandalism since Aunt Kay passed away. What is going on and why is there house being targeted? Maggie is inquisitive and cannot help poking around (and asking questions). School opens for the year and incidents start happening at the middle school (nasty ones). Maggie has to run a permission slip over to the school one evening and finds the office door unlocked. She enters and finds the principal, Miss Harrier dead in her office. Miss Harrier was not well-liked which makes for a long suspect list (one way for Maggie to meet the townspeople). All of these incidents are not giving the McDonald family a good feeling about Orchard View. Why was Miss Harrier killed? Is the killer also behind the malicious mischief at the school and the McDonald House? Maggie wants to help the investigation, but will her inquisitiveness put her in the path of a killer.
Address to Die For was a good first book. The town is unusual (the schools do not have buses) with quirky characters, the new home sounds gorgeous (just needs a facelift), and I liked the main characters/family (McDonald family). The mysteries are easily solved if you pay careful attention to the clues provided. The first half of the book is slow paced because of all the details (the family, town, house, etc.) which bog it down a little. The pace does pick up in the second half of the book. I found some of the vandalism offensive because it involved animals (I really wish the author had not included it), but that is just me. Address to Die For is easy to read and is nicely written. I give Address to Die For 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I will definitely be reading the next book in A Maggie McDonald Mystery series which is Scheduled to Death.
I received a complimentary copy of Address to Die For from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel. The comments and opinions expressed above are strictly my own.