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Maggie Needs an Alibi by Kasey Michaels
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Maggie Needs an Alibi

by Kasey Michaels

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Total number of points -- 75 points out of 100
Number of stars -- 3.5

1. Plot -- 15 points out of 20

The wacky storyline, although firmly lodged in fantasy, follows a logical, intelligent progression. Maggie Kelly, a NYT best-selling author, stymied by psychological issues and an addiction to cigarettes, discovers that two of the characters in her Regency romances come alive and take up residence in her apartment, complicating her life. At first thinking she's gone mad, she is much relieved to learn that others can also see and hear these men, even as she tries to protect them from discovery. The misuse of modern amenities, such as credit cards, TV shopping channels, and local pizza delivery, in the hands of the financially naive Viscount Saint Just and Sterling Balder adds to the charm of the story. The murder victims are hardly well-loved, and the weapons used to dispatch them turn out to be more clever and sophisticated than first glance suggests, enabling the killer to avoid scrutiny until the very end. In many ways, the insider view of the publishing world was an eye-opener, as Maggie navigated her way through the cutthroat world of romance best-sellers.

2. Characters -- 16 points out of 20

The characters, especially the imaginary ones, did actually ring true, right down to their flaws, of which there were many. The use of flowery language and obscure English dialogue by the roguish Viscount Saint Just and his sidekick, Sterling, was a big reason why it succeeded as well as it did. When the fictional pair goes head to head with the down-to-earth detective, Steve Wendell, in a battle of testosterone, the conversation and rivalry sounds all-too-human. As Saint Just and Sterling become used to being alive, they evolve in their social awareness and self-reliance, at least as long as Saint Just can get his hands on Maggie's wallet. While Ms. Michaels worked hard to create tension between the real and imaginary characters, none of them ever seemed to be people with whom I would choose to spend time or seek out for friendship. This made it difficult for me to relate to them on a deeper level.

3. Setting -- 16 points out of 20

New York City proves to be a handy locale for the story, allowing the author to have some fun with her cast. Although much of the action takes place in Maggie Kelly's apartment, Ms. Michaels uses the urban setting to thrust her characters into various predicaments typically found in the Big Apple.

4. Pacing -- 14 points out of 20

I found the first third of the book slow-going, and yet amusing -- the one-liners were funny, but the story didn't seem to get wheels to go anywhere, aimlessly bumping along like a cocktail party with guests that have all had one too many. The amount of time the author took to set the stage for the killing dragged on a bit, but once the murder got underway, the pace picked up and the personalities of the suspects seemed to emerge and become more important to the mystery.

5. Tone -- 14 points out of 20

The first half of the story seemed rather contrived and self-conscious, as if the author struggled a bit too hard to make the fantasy aspects seem believable. Once she finally set the stage and just went with it, the dialogue seemed a little more believable and flowed better. ( )
  sarambarton | Aug 16, 2013 |
To sum Maggie Needs An Alibi up in one word, hilarious. This novel is truly brain-candy in the sense that it takes you on a murder mystery adventure with a Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes style detective, plopped into the modern world with lots of sleuthing, assumptions, and sarcasm.

The ne'er-do-well was an easy guess but that didn't matter since you read this novel more for amusement and adventure than the twist. I look forward to reading Maggie By The Book. ( )
  bleached | Sep 8, 2012 |
Maggie Kelly is a mystery author who is on the New York Times best sellers list. Her mysteries feature two major characters: 1) her heroic detective Alexandre Blake, Viscount Saint Just, "amateur sleuth, hero extraordinare, world-class lover", and arrogant and 2) his sidekick and friend, Sterling Balder, "a slightly bumbling friend".

Life seems to be going well until her ex-boyfriend shows up wanting to get back together. After managing to send him out the door, she turns around to find these two characters come to life, standing in her apartment and eating her food. After a series of fainting, "dreaming", thinking she's insane, etc., she finally comes to terms that they are indeed her characters and not some mega-fans who sneaked in when she wasn't looking.

The next chapters deal with her dealing with the two; learning how to live with them and how to lie to her friends and "friends" about their existence. This includes a lot of thinking on their feet.

The murder, which usually takes place at the beginning of most murder-mystery novels, doesn't even occur until chapters 8-9. And poor Maggie is thrust into bad press and chaos, forced to let "Alex" help her solve the mystery.

The rest that follows is bravado, a tint of romance, comical relief, and a plot of conspiracy to murder.

It is a fun read and will definitely brighten up your day.

Kasey Michaels does a great job of keeping you occupied with her writing style that is both fun and serious.

And the ending is perfection. Even if you do realize who did it, you really don't comprehend how much was involved until the end.

So if you are looking for a mystery with a large helping of humor and some sprinklings of romance, definitely read "Maggie Needs an Alibi". ( )
  deepikasd | Sep 6, 2011 |
Was definitely interesting to say the least :) In this series Maggie Kelly is a Mystery author. Her 2 main characters come to life and appear in her living room and soon help her solve her real live mystery when her ex-boyfriend ends up dead after she cooks dinner for him.. Weird, funny and intriguing all at once! ( )
  DreamingInFiction | Feb 13, 2011 |
On one hand, mystery purists are not likely to be fans of Maggie Needs an Alibi. It combines romance, mystery, fantasy and humor, with emphasis NOT on mystery. On the other hand, I can’t help believe that anyone who gives it a fair reading won’t enjoy the romp.

Maggie Kelly is a 31-year-old Manhattanite who for five years has been writing historical mysteries featuring Alexandre Blake Viscount Saint Just, a gentleman of Regency England. While midway into her newest novel, her character and his fictional friend Sterling Balder suddenly appear – in the flesh – in her apartment. Apparently the characters were so sharply drawn they truly came to life. Living in her brain for that long, they also got to know her and her environment. That’s fortunate, because with their 19th Century sensibilities – and clothing -- Alex and Sterling would otherwise not have an easy time fitting in.

It’s a real hoot to follow the adventures of the fictional characters as Alex assembles his 21st Century wardrobe (and run up Maggie’s credit card debt in the process) and Sterling learns the joys of the Home Shopping Network and Gilligan’s Island. Alex is the personification of Maggie’s perfect man, while Sterling reminds her of Seinfeld’s George Costanza – in a t-shirt that reads “Brady Bunch Forever.”

If I seem to be avoiding reviewing elements of the story that would brand it a mystery, that’s because the first suspicious death doesn’t come until more than half way through the book, a second death much later. They seem almost afterthoughts … as if to say “to call it a mystery, I’d better have a murder or two.” That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book – it was a great read, funny and well written. And I think there may be an audience out there that doesn’t mind a significant blurring of genres. Like her heroine Maggie Kelly, author Kasey Michaels is a romance writer who has switched genres. I think it remains to be seen whether she has successfully made the leap.

Let the mystery purist beware!

By Diana. First Published in Mystery News, August-September 2002

Review based on publisher- or author-provided review copy. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jan 20, 2011 |
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Epigraph
To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything. - Anatole France
One never knows, do one? - Thomas "Fats" Waller
Dedication
For Megan and Joe.
Here's to a long, healthy,
and happy life together.
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It all began innocently enough.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Mystery novelist Maggie Kelly, who must deal with the arrival of detective Viscount Saint and his inept sidekick--fictional characters who have suddenly become very real--finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend.… (more)

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