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Caught Dead in Philadelphia by Gillian…

Caught Dead in Philadelphia

by Gillian Roberts

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Amanda Pepper (book 1)

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194660,720 (3.18)7



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Second Read February 14-15, 2016.
First Read June 20-21, 2015. Book Review from First Read.

What fun to discover a novel with the setting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! AND it's the first title of a mystery series!! AND the main character, Amanda Pepper is an English teacher turned sleuth!!! Then what a delight to learn that the author was a former English teacher in Philly!!! It makes one wonder if she did any sleuthing for the Philadelphia Police Department(PPD) ;)


Two of my favorites in the descriptive category are:
(1) "During the great Coca-Cola switch-over, I tried to tell Beth (Amanda's older & married sister) to think of herself as the Classic form, to realize that she, like Coke, didn't have to reinvent herself. But she didn't see the connection."
(2) "I'd be cushioned by my lovely relatives, and I'd die of suffocation and boredom, instead."

And the author absolutely nailed the description of weather as shared by this example:
"I've never understood why they call this the temperate zone. It is anything but. With weather ranging from below zero to one hundred degrees, it should be called the schizoid belt.
But every so often, with totally intemperate zest, a day blooms with a nearly painful beauty. It's a day for believing your lover's promises, for rediscovering humanity and feeling kinship with it, for deciding not to join the Sun Belt defectors just yet.
Saturday was one of those. I looked out the guest room window at a sincerely blue sky dotted with cartoon fluffs of clouds. Such a spring day promises a mind-boggling, glorious summer, I'd lived long enough to know that this promise is a bald-faced lie. Still, days like this are so sweet prior knowledge becomes questionable. This is a brand new beginning, and anything's possible."

I enjoyed every aspect of the mystery and can't wait to read more titles in the series! ( )
  Corduroy7 | Jun 21, 2015 |
A confluence of events lead me to pick up this much treasured first in an older, but excellent, series. I've been bored senseless at work so I've been working on creating a perfect database of my books over on libib.com and seeing the Amanda Pepper titles made me realise it's been an age since I've read any of them. We've been hit with a heat wave this week that's peaked today with a 43C/110F high, and finally, the A/C at the office cried "Uncle!" and quite first thing this morning, so once the indoor temps hit 34C, I went home - 11:15am. So I had a delightful afternoon at home with nothing to do but think cool thoughts and pray to the A/C gods that mine was made of sterner stuff and kept the house cool. Oh, and read! I could have grabbed one from my every growing TBR pile, but Amanda Pepper was on my mind, so I picked up the first in the series, and possibly my favorite, Caught Dead in Philadelphia.

This whole series, with the benefit of hindsight, seems to be one straddling the space between "traditional" cozies and the cozies we have today that seem, almost without exception, to be following the formulae de jour; namely, everything must have a theme or be centered around a hobby, and just about all of them have to bleed just a little bit into chick-lit. I'm not complaining, as I read a staggering number of them, but I admit most cozies today lack a certain weightiness, or, dare I say, maturity, that many of the older cozies took for granted was a part of what made a good story.

Caught Dead in Philadelphia (and the series as a whole) has more weight to it, more gravitas, but it has the lovely, lively banter, sarcasm - snark - that I love so much about modern cozies too. Amanda Pepper is a teacher at a private, posh preparatory school - not because she has noble views of educating the future, or because she feels it's her calling, but because there's not much else she can do with her liberal arts degree. She's not perky, upbeat, or optimistic. She's just a normal early 30's woman with a job, trying to avoid her mother's constant "why aren't you married yet??" harping. Until she comes home one day to find her co-worker, Liza, dead on her fireplace hearth. Liza, who was engaged to an old-money politician preparing a run for office. Detective C.K. Mackenzie finds it odd that Liza was at her house alone and Amanda was the last person to see her alive, and everybody but everybody wants to know what Liza told her before she was killed.

The plot necessarily throws Amanda and C.K. (who won't reveal what the C or the K stands for - setting up a running gag that spans over quite a few of the books) together for most of the book, and it's when these two are together that the dialogue really shines. Witty, sarcastic, sometimes sincere enough to put a little hitch in your pulse rate. I love these two together, they're probably one of my favorite "cozy couples" over the years. Ms. Roberts writes a realistic relationship that is never boring, even when it is.

The murder plot is a fine one. Since it's a re-read it's hard for me to claim "there are no holes in this plot!" and really be sure I'm right, but I'll stand by my assertion that it's finely crafted with more than a few suspects with very real motives and an ending that is rather unexpected. I think. I'll just add here in a not-so-natural segue, that the book dates beautifully - nothing felt out of date, out of style or 'old fashioned', and other than a lack of computers/mobile phones, this story could have taken place in the present day as well as in the 80's.

This is a cozy of the old school, although not the oldest. It's not stuffy but it's not cotton candy either. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who likes a good murder mystery without either the noir or the frothy whipped cream. ( )
  murderbydeath | Sep 20, 2014 |
Amanda Pepper annoyed me by withholding information from the police for the first four chapters of the book. I like her boyfriend but what does he see in her? ( )
  R0BIN | Apr 27, 2013 |
High school English teacher Amanda Pepper lives an unexceptional existence with her cat, Macavity. When a part-time drama teacher, actress, and political fiancée shows up at her apartment one morning only for Amanda to find her murdered that afternoon, she is drawn into the case first as a suspect and then through her own curiosity, despite the warnings of an attractive Southern-accented detective. An easy read and entertaining read, if not a striking mental puzzle. Amanda is troubled by the murders without the book becoming gory. I'm not sure if I'll seek out the rest of the series, but I'll keep it in mind.
  jholcomb | Jan 25, 2010 |
This book was given to me by a friend that chooses mysteries by the title. I have to admit, I love a series, so I will continue to finish off this series (just because). It was quick and an easy read before bed (no bad dreams).

I love quirky characters and Amanda was different enough, not the beauty, not the brain, that I found her amusing. I enjoyed her Mom (a bald parrot?) & her sister's dogged determination to get her married off.

Amanda is a teacher at a private school specializing in teaching children of wealthy parents. A co-worker shows up at her doorstep in the morning, stays and when Amanda comes home from work, she finds her dead. At least she gets to meet an interesting, attractive detective (what a way to meet a guy). ( )
  ChrisMG | May 20, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gillian Robertsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Greber, RobertAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LoFaro, JerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, DianeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At 7:58 A.M. on a wet Monday morning, twenty-seven hours after giving up cigarettes and a green-eyed disc jockey, I was not in a mood to socialize.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Book description
Amanda Pepper is a teacher at Philly Prep, an institution specializing in the stupid children of wealthy parents. A fellow teacher asks to take a nap, and later is found dead on Amanda's couch. As an obvious suspect, Amanda has a great interest in solving the murder, and has to unravel the complicated secret life of the victim.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345353404, Mass Market Paperback)

Anthony Award winner for Best First Mystery Novel -- the debut of the Philadelphia-set Amanda Pepper
Amanda Pepper, English teacher at Philly Prep, does not hate her life. But when a fellow teacher who's engaged to a senate candidate, begs for rest on Amanda's couch, then dies, things could be better. Then the police suspect her of murder, she begins her own investigation, and ends by teaching a certain blue-eyed cop a thing or two....
"Gillian Roberts is a mystery reader's dream come true."
Lia Matera

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Amanda is suspected of murder when an acquaintance is found dead in front of her fireplace. She joins forces with Officer Mackenzie to solve the case.

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Average: (3.18)
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