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Murder Plays House (Mommy-Track Mysteries) Hardcover – July 6, 2004

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Waldman's fifth well-plotted Mommy-Track mystery (after 2003's Death Gets a Time-Out), PI and former public defender Juliet Applebaum, with another baby on the way, needs a new home almost as badly as she and her partner in her PI business, Al Hockey, need a new case. When in doubt, shop, so Juliet goes house hunting. One place she looks at really stands out—the one with the body in the bath. It seems a solution is at hand to both problems: if Juliet and Al can solve the murder, then Juliet and her family can buy the house. But who would kill a washed-up, bit-part actress? The deeper Juliet and Al dig, the more motives they find for the victim to have murdered someone herself. Juliet is a wonderful invention, warm, loving and sympathetic to those in need, but unintimidated by the L.A. entertainment industry she must enter to search for clues. An underlying theme concerns the extraordinary lengths to which people go to look beautiful, and the great weight put on physical appearance in determining success in Hollywood. The suspense builds slowly—it takes almost the full length of the book before a motive for the vicious killing becomes clear—but what a motive, what a resolution and how clever of Juliet to figure everything out.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Juliet Applebaum, public defender turned stay-at-home-mom and private investigator, is pregnant with her third child. The family apartment is suddenly too small, so she is looking for an affordable house. Her friend, Kat, a reluctant real-estate agent, offers to show her some homes, and the one that she really loves comes complete with a dead body in the guesthouse. Since her detective agency has no business, she decides to find the killer, hoping that it will give her a better chance to buy the house. The investigation takes her from the cut-throat real-estate business to the equally harsh entertainment world, where has-been sitcom stars will do anything to get work. As always, Waldman uses humor to portray the Los Angeles scene while making some serious points about what is really important in life. This thoroughly modern cozy will be popular. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Mommy-Track Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425196356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425196359
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In "Murder Plays House," by Ayelet Waldman, lawyer and part-time sleuth Juliet Applebaum is bursting at the seams. Literally. She has gained fifty pounds during her third pregnancy and she and her husband, Peter, need a bigger house for their growing family. The problem is that a desirable house in L. A. is not easy to get unless the buyers are filthy rich, which Juliet and her husband most certainly are not.
While house hunting with her realtor friend one day, Juliet stumbles upon a dead body in the bathtub. The owner of the house, who is the victim's brother, retains Juliet to help investigate the case. Along with her partner, Al, Juliet starts digging into the life of the deceased, an out-of-work actress named Alicia Felix.
Juliet interviews Alicia's former co-workers, ex-boyfriend, and anyone else with a possible connection to the crime. At the same time, the mother-to-be is trying to cope with her out-of-control appetite and ungainly shape, while also tending to the needs of her husband and young children.
"Murder Plays House" has its moments. Juliet is witty and sassy, and Waldman's wry humor and satirical treatment of the shallow L. A. culture are right on target. The author has a go at the trendy fashions, the insane desire to be thin at all costs, and the desperation of marginally talented actors to make it in show biz.
Waldman has trouble, however, balancing her lighthearted humor with the book's tragic elements, most of which are introduced in the second half of the novel. The carefree tone of the book's opening gives way to a somewhat somber and preachy ending. Although the plots of the "Mommy-Track Mysteries" are only passable, I keep reading them because of my fondness for Waldman's irresistible and down-to-earth heroine, Juliet Applebaum.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on July 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Heavily pregnant Juliet Applebaum needs to find a new home for a her expanding family and fast! Not only are their current digs not going to be big enough to accommodate three children and two adults, but the people who have bought the lot next to the place they're renting have started an extensive remodeling work, and husband, Peter, a horror screen play writer (who works at the night and sleeps during the day) is getting no sleep at all and his work is suffering. Finding a nice and affordable house in LA is no easy feat; fortunately Juliet has an ace up her sleeve: her good friend Kat is a real estate agent -- albeit a heavily pregnant and quite reluctant real estate agent. Morosely, Kat agrees to go house hunting with Juliet. And when Kat shows her the magnificently restored house that Kat's cousin (Farzad) and his gay lover (fashion designer, Felix) are planning to sell, Juliet immediately falls in love with the house. Unfortunately the house also comes with the dead body of the Felix's sister, Alice. Once again Juliet finds herself in the middle of another murder investigation. But this time, solving the murder ahead of the police may actually net Juliet her dream house. Now all Juliet has to do is successfully discover who murdered Alice and why, as well juggling childcare, and making sure she doesn't give birth in the middle of her investigation...
If you're looking for a mystery novel that is full of snappy dialogue and that takes a humourous look at the life of a young(ish) mother in LA, you're bound to enjoy "Murder Plays House." Juliet is an engaging and taking character, and her attempts to be the perfect mother and understanding spouse, while trying to juggle a career as a private detective and her own needs, were truly funny and entertaining to read.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
She was a public defender but after giving birth to two children, Juliet Appleton quit to become a full time mother. When she became bored, she and her friend Al opened up their own private investigate business that still doesn't pay their salaries. When Juliet discovers that she is pregnant for a third time, she realizes it time to move into a house with lots of rooms. Her husband Peter, a horror screenwriter, agrees with her. Juliet finds the perfect house for her family.
After inspecting the home and loving every inch of it, Juliet looks in the guest house where she finds Alicia Felix, the owner's sister, dead in the bathtub, her body knifed countless times. When she talks to Felix about buying the home he tells her he is grieving for his sister and is not ready to move. Juliet agrees to represent Felix and his lover Farzad in their dealings with the police; she and Farzad agree that she will be given special consideration to buy the house if she finds the killer. It's not easy being eight months pregnant and conducting a homicide investigation but Juliet tries anyway.
Ayelet Waldman's mommy Track mysteries get progressively feistier and wittier mainly due to the situations the protagonist finds herself in. Juliet is outrageous as she investigates and sometimes with her two children accompanying her interviews a suspect who might yield information that will lead to the killer. MURDER PLAYS HOUSE is a well thought out mystery that uses a social problem as the basis for the killing. Readers will adore Juliet and her two (no make that three) munchkins.
Harriet Klausner
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