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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Mother-Daughter Murder Night

"That's the beauty of the people we love....No matter how well we know them, there's always more to discover."

I don't buy a lot of murder mysteries, but both of the murder mysteries I have just read simultaneously were about so much more than the murders themselves. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store was about relationships between people across racial lines and groups of people standing together. Mother Daughter Murder Night is about how a murder in the community helps to heal the relationship between an adult daughter, Beth, and her ailing mother, Lana, who is staying with her and her daughter Jack, while undergoing chemotherapy. Lana had been a powerful Los Angeles real estate mogul before lung cancer suddenly halted her career and sent her to the Stanford Cancer Center and then Beth and Jack's house, for treatment and recovery. They all live together in a house on the Elkhorn Slough (pronounced "slew"), a gorgeous wetlands area with sea otters, sea lions, egrets, great blue herons and many more endangered species, in Monterey Bay on the central coast of California. Fifty-seven year-old Lana is at first terribly bored in the remote and unstylish Elkhorn Community, but when her fifteen year-old granddaughter Jack becomes the prime suspect for murder, Lana snaps into action and begins an investigation of her own.

"When your mom was a kid, Columbo was her favorite. She even dressed up as him one year for Halloween."
'I didn't know you were into detective shows.'
'I was a long time ago.' Beth reached across and pulled the bowl of popcorn toward her. "It started after Dad left, before Ma became a big shot. We'd melt cheese on bialys and watch in her bed. Mother-Daughter murder night, we used to call it. It was our little ritual.'
Lana remembered the stress of that time, barely covering the rent on their tiny apartment...willing herself strong, for Beth. For both of them."

Mother-Daughter Murder Night is a fun exploration into three generations of women pushing past boundaries while learning how to love and support each other without stifling each other's spirits. I have a friend who lives in Elkhorn and am a great lover of the slough, so I particularly enjoyed reading about the many facets of the area that were connected to the murder and the various characters. Author Nina Simon writes from experience, as she quit her job in the non-profit sector to care for her mom, and started to write crime novels as an "escape." Simon lives close to the Elkhorn area in Santa Cruz, and now writes full time.

Note: Mother-Daughter Murder Night is the Reese's Book Club pick for September.

Hardcover 365 pages, Audiobook 12 hours 38 minutes

Now reading: Wellness, by Nathan Hill, and listening to Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. Leave a comment if you want to read with me!


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