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The Mortal Groove by Ellen Hart
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The Mortal Groove (2007)

by Ellen Hart

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What stops this from getting 5 stars is the open=-ended story lines: How did Ethan end up next to the victim? What happened with Siggy and Peter and Mia? A few too many story lines that weren't fully developed and probably should have been a separate book. ( )
  KarenRinn | Nov 2, 2013 |
Where has Ellen Hart been all my life? I finished The Mortal Groove and was very pleasantly surprised to find a new author to feel at home with. This Jane Lawless mystery combines some of the themes I've been reading about lately: workaholic restaurateurs who are so ambitious they leave little time for romantic relationships (in spite of their conscious longing for them), the value placed on ambition over human sensitivity, the effects on a mother of surrendering a child for adoption, lost children, politics, the life changing effects of impersonal violence, the solace of friendship, the love of family. I very much liked the fact that it's not only women who are the victim of violence. Obviously this is a book written by a woman. I like Ellen Hart's characters very much, except perhaps the wacky sidekick, Cordelia. Usually I love the lovable sidekick as I am supposed to, but Cordelia is too stereotypically narcissistic for my tastes. I thought this was the last in the Jane Lawless series, but, seeing that it's not, I've ordered a couple of the follow ups. I need to find out if Jane's dad becomes governor of Minnesota. ( )
1 vote Citizenjoyce | Jun 27, 2011 |
A woman’s unsolved murder from the 1960s comes back to bedevil Twin Cities restaurateur Jane Lawless and her friend Cordelia Thorn. Investigative reporter Melanie Gunderson, who recently reconciled with her former lover Cordelia, is investigating Susan Bouchard’s murder. Mel is attacked and nearly killed; while she’s in a coma, Jane and Cordelia take up her investigation. They learn that Ethan Turk, brother of Vietnam veteran/attorney Randall Turk, was acquitted in the murder and that the dead woman was Randy’s long-time lady love. Jane’s father, Ray Lawless, is in a tough gubernatorial primary fight and Randy is one of his key advisers.

Although the primary plot involves Jane and Cordelia as amateur sleuths, three private investigators pop up in the story – one in England working for Cordelia, one on a mission for Jane’s brother Peter, another helping Jane and Cordelia in their investigation of the “cold-case” murder. In the hands of a less capable writer, the plot threads might have become hopelessly tangled – not so with Ellen Hart. She’s able to juggle it all so readers can keep the complex plot and many family relationships straight.

Although The Mortal Groove has a darker tone and more coarse language than many mysteries featuring amateur sleuths, I found myself intrigued by the story and reading it in great gulps. I tend to enjoy present-day stories with their roots in long-ago crimes; The Mortal Groove definitely qualifies.

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, Feb-Mar 2008 issue.

Review based on publisher- or author-provided review copy.
  NewsieQ | Jan 20, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312349459, Hardcover)

Minneapolis restaurateur and amateur sleuth Jane Lawless is in the middle of ringing in the New Year the best way she knows how—with her family, friends, and some excellent champagne—when the biggest financial backers in Minnesota politics break up the party with a little backroom proposition for her father: How’d he like to be the state’s next governor?

Flattered, Ray Lawless, a retired defense attorney, agrees to run, and the latecomer’s sprint to the state capital is going great until reporters and opponents start digging up the kind of dirt that is more valuable than gold out on the campaign trail. He and his family are fair game, but worse than that, so are the men running his campaign. Their secrets, involving the mysterious death of a young woman, have been buried since the summer they all came home from Vietnam. Unfortunately for Jane and her father, those secrets won’t stay that way for long.

The Mortal Groove, the newest addition to Lambda and Minnesota Book Award--winning author Ellen Hart’s multilayered Jane Lawless series, is a haunting tale of dark secrets that is sure to satisfy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:32 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When her father, Ray Lawless, is tapped to run for governor of Minnesota, his campaign has unexpected consequences for Jane Lawless as the media and Ray's opponents threaten to dig up decades-old secrets tied to everyone around him.

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