From Publishers Weekly
L.A.-based literary agent and single mother Charlie Green is used to a hectic life, but not even she could navigate the chaos that she and her 16-year-old daughter, Libby, step into when they reluctantly return to Boulder, Colo., to care for her ailing mother, Edwina. This novel, Charlie's fourth appearance (after Murder in a Hot Flash), is quickly lost in an avalanche of subplots, red herrings, psychic phenomena and far too many bizarre characters. Edwina, a biology professor, annoyed her neighbors when she turned the retired laboratory rats she kept in the basement loose in the neighborhood. But are the neighbors angry enough to break into her house, steal her computer disks, send over a poisoned casserole and accuse her of killing her next-door neighbor's husband? Three seemingly unrelated murders are clustered near Edwina's home and, in no time at all, a manipulative realtor, a Hollywood megastar (Charlie's former lover), an aspiring novelist and assorted vagrants are all vying for Charlie's investigative attention. Prowling mountain lions and uncontrolled brush fires make this dysfunctional group understandably edgy. Not even Charlie's upbeat wit and promising romance with the police detective in charge (a former high-school nerd) can save this fragmented and disjointed story. As she herself says: "This town and this neighborhood have always been screwy, but things have gotten out of hand here." Precisely.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
As you'd expect, murder is the least of Charlie Greene's problems when she drops everything at her literary agency in L.A. and rushes back to Boulder with her daughter Libby to be at the side of Edwina Greene, the mother who never even told her that she had breast cancer. Edwina's friend and neighbor Reynelda Goff presses an unpublishable historical mystery on Charlie; Charlie's star author, still doing time in Folsom, acts as if he's going to fly the coop to another agent; and Edwina reveals she's taken advantage of her mastectomy to schedule some elective surgery at the same time. Someone in the neighborhood seems to be setting fires in the nearby mountains, cutting up cats, and killing deer in Columbia Cemetery, where Libby was conceived one memorably forgettable evening. All this, plus the murder of another neighbor, Andy Tollerude, whose body Charlie finds in the grave of legendary local son Tom Horn (two more homicides will follow). Squired by former fumbling teen Kenny Eisenburg, now a sexy cop giving visiting Hollywood hunk Mitch Hilsten a run for his money, Charlie ties the killings in to a sacrificial blood cult (!) that, as still another neighbor sagely remarks, ``is not good for property values.'' The kitchen-sink plotting makes Charlie's fourth (Murder in a Hot Flash, 1995, etc.) as busy, dizzy, and ultimately wearying as a real-life visit home. Count your blessings. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.