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McMansion (Ben Abbott Series) Hardcover – December 15, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Scott's satisfying fourth installment of his Ben Abbott series (after 2003's Frostline) hinges on the murder of Billy Tiller, a greedy developer determined to ruin the smalltown charm of Newbury, Conn., with a string of tacky starter palaces. When he's found dead—run over by a bulldozer—the police arrest a young environmental activist, Jeff Kimball. Ira Levy, Kimball's lawyer, asks Abbott, realtor-cum-PI, to dig around. Abbott doesn't want to take the case—he despised everything Tiller stood for and worries that his loathing might hamper his investigation—but Levy twists his arm. Abbott determines pretty speedily that Kimball couldn't have committed the crime, but figuring out who did is a tad trickier. Though the reader never gets to know Abbott very well, this novel will resonate with those in the countless communities that are beset by real estate monstrosities. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ben Abbot, a somewhat disgraced native son of Newbury, Connecticut, makes his living as a real-estate salesman and a private detective. The greedy developers constructing huge mansions where open space used to be anger him to the point that he refuses to sell them. When Billy Tiller, the greediest of local developers, is found dead underneath his bulldozer with environmental activist Jeff Kimball sitting at the controls, the local police think they have an open-and-shut case. Kimball says he is innocent, but the prosecutor sees his gateway to a senate seat, and the defense attorney sees an opportunity to impress the New York movers and shakers. Ben lands the job of helping prove Jeff's innocence. The salesman-sleuth premise works surprisingly well in this appealing series, now in its fourth installment; readers who like their mystery plots closely tied to current events will find much to enjoy here. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
Ben Abbott is a sometime private investigator, sometime real estate agent, and a full time commentator on some of the more egregious aspects of our modern society and the influence on small town America. Abbott is also one of the more pleasant and thoughtful investigators readers are likely to run across in this age. Abbott is concerned about the effects of aging on his Aunt Constance who lives nearby, he takes in children in need of adult supervision and he worries about unrestrained development of open spaces in the Connecticut town of Newbury where he lives. That last concern forms the core of this interesting novel about crooked developers, and a badly twisted legal system.
One of the worst developers, a Billy Tiller, possessed mostly of terrible taste, monumental greed and a willingness to break the law anytime he thought there was profit in it, gets his come-uppance when somebody drives a bulldozer over him at a construction site. The perpetrator, a young member of ELF, is discovered by the local troopers sitting at the controls of the offending `dozer with the crushed body of Billy Tiller underneath. Open and shut, but Abbott, retained by the boy's lawyer, doesn't believe it. His pursuit of the truth leads him into some interesting and stressful situations. This is a well written and enjoyable novel.
It has been nine years since the last Ben Abbott book, and I'm delighted he's back. Ben is a great character--he comes from an old, New England family, has his Aunt Connie who is showing early stages of dementia, loves his town, became involved with the wrong people that landed him in prison for 3 years, is clueless about relationships with women but has befriended a young girl being raised by a single mother and is a somewhat unwilling PI. The story is a well-plotted traditional mystery with plenty of suspects and motives through which to be sorted. The issue of preservation versus development is certainly timely but doesn't overwhelm the mystery. I found "McMansions" to be a very good read, with a very bad title, and sincerely hope the next book will be soon than nine year's away.