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Dying for a Clue (1999)

by Judy Fitzwater

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281644,462 (3.57)None
MYSTERY NOVELIST JENNIFER MARSH IS BACK-- CAUGHT IN A MURDER PLOT SHE DIDN'T CREATE! Jennifer Marsh thinks getting some real investigative experience will be good for her writing--and helping private eye Johnny Zeeman track down the birth parents of adopted teenager Diane Robbins seems like a safe place to start. But when a late-night rendezvous explodes into murder, Jennifer has second thoughts . . . too late. For her presence at the crime scene makes the news--and puts her high on a killer's hit list. Her only escape is to plow headfirst into the deadly mystery of Diane Robbins' true identity . . . and to determine why someone will kill to keep it buried.… (more)

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Aspiring mystery novelist Jennifer Marsh decided she needed some real experience to help her find a publisher for her books. With the Yellow Pages as her reference, she finally was able to get Johnny Zeeman, a third-rate PI, to let her ride along with him as he worked a simple case of receiving an envelope. Unfortunately, her first night included the murder of the person with the envelope, the wounding of Johnny Z., and her jumping in a slimy dumpster to avoid being another victim.
After the shooters leave, she finds the murder victim, Beverly Hoffman, a nurse at a fertility clinic, and is amazed by her eyes. She passes out. The next thing she is aware of is stinging in her right, then her left cheek. Opening her eyes, she sees a hand about to strike her again. It was a police officer trying to waken her. He said, “Sorry, ma’am–about your cheek.”
“The Big Three-O was bearing down on her, but Jennifer hardly considered herself a ma’am. The word stung more than the slap.”
After Jennifer’s apartment is ransacked by someone looking for the envelope, which had not been seen, she moved in with her boyfriend, Sam Culpepper, until the apartment was repaired and was safe. The next day the person who hired Johnny showed up: a seventeen year old girl, Diane Robbins, who refused to leave until she got the envelope. Diane said she didn’t know who she was and Beverly was going to help her learn her identity.
The story involves missing children, adoptions, legal and illegal, and infertility clinics.
DYING FOR A CLUE offers a lot of wit and humor. Much of it sounds like a nineteen twenties detective story. It includes observations on popular culture as well. E.g., When another character compared her to Jessica Fletcher, Jennifer thinks, “Any association with [Jessica Fletcher] was dangerous. The death rate for people even marginally acquainted with her was far higher than the national average. By now the population of Cabot Cove, Maine, had to be reduced to a shell of its former self.”
While meeting with her writing group, one of the other members, the only one to have had a book published, pointed out it could take four years before the idea for a book becomes a finished product ready for sale. Avoid current fads, such as vampires. “Better stick with the tried and true themes that are always around, at least for your first sale.”
I read the first of the Jennifer Marsh series from a free download a few weeks ago. Since then, I have read the entire series and have enjoyed them very much. The characters are well-developed and the writing flows. My only criticisms of this book is are the chapters are too short, there is some repetition when she reviews what she (and the reader) already know, and I don’t think airlines ever provided bagged meals for 59-minute flights. I also figured out Diane’s identity much sooner than Jennifer did. ( )
  Judiex | Jul 7, 2013 |
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The alley behind the short side of the L-shaped strip of shops and offices on Macon's shouthern side was dark, dirty, and rank, and Jennifer had just about had it with playing detective.
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MYSTERY NOVELIST JENNIFER MARSH IS BACK-- CAUGHT IN A MURDER PLOT SHE DIDN'T CREATE! Jennifer Marsh thinks getting some real investigative experience will be good for her writing--and helping private eye Johnny Zeeman track down the birth parents of adopted teenager Diane Robbins seems like a safe place to start. But when a late-night rendezvous explodes into murder, Jennifer has second thoughts . . . too late. For her presence at the crime scene makes the news--and puts her high on a killer's hit list. Her only escape is to plow headfirst into the deadly mystery of Diane Robbins' true identity . . . and to determine why someone will kill to keep it buried.

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