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The Mother Shadow (1989)

av Melodie Johnson Howe

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
582443,695 (3.85)1
Edgar Award Finalist: After a suicide, two oddball female sleuths investigate a coin collection that is anything but small change. Maggie Hill's life has become temporary. Her marriage was temporary, her jobs are temporary, and if work doesn't pick up, her time in California might be temporary, too. Her latest employer is Ellis Kenilworth, an aging coin expert with a first-rate collection and a tenth-rate family. One morning, he has Maggie type up a codicil to his will, changing the document so that his million-dollar rare-coin collection goes not to his kin, but to a woman named Claire Conrad. By the end of the day, the codicil has vanished, and Kenilworth has killed himself with a shotgun.   When the hyena-like family starts to circle Maggie, she reaches out to Conrad. The heiress is an eccentric private detective who wears only black and white--and whose sense of honesty is as clear-cut as her wardrobe. Together, they fight to protect an old man's final wish, battling against a family so greedy that they would steal the coins right out of the dead man's hand.… (mer)
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The Mother Shadow – Brilliant Crime Novella

The Mother Shadow by Melodie Johnson Howe is a wonderful crime novella that introduces us to the female private detective Claire Conrad and Maggie Hill who becomes her assistant. What I like about this novella is that Melodie Johnson How has a writing style that reminds me of the doyen of crime writers Agatha Christie. There are no wasted words or padding, short sweet and straight to the point and the imagery given is so clear. Claire Conrad is a mixture of Miss Marple and Hercule Poroit with more money a couple of servants living in the cottage of a closed hotel.

Maggie Hill is working as a temporary secretary for Ellis Kennilworth at the home he shares with his mother, brother and sister. Maggie has been asked to report an hour earlier and duly turns up to find that Ellis is meeting with an ambulance chasing seedy lawyer. Maggie is required to type up a codicil to his will giving his coin collection worth over $4million to Claire Conrad for services yet to be rendered. Later that day Ellis kills himself then the mystery and twists kick in.

Maggie finds that the codicil is missing; her apartment has been turned over in burglary in search for the codicil and the suicide letter which also has gone missing. It is when Maggie goes to meet Claire Conrad to advise her of the missing codicil things start to get interesting. In the course of the investigation we uncover incest, blackmail, murder and financial double dealing and the hidden love child.

Throughout this thriller the shadow of Eleanor Kennilworth looms large over the story and how she is not only the head of the household but has what seems like unseen powers. It is only when her family is threatened that she reacts and when she does it is devastating. Eleanor Kennilworth is a ball breaking no nonsense matriarch whose will must be observed at all times.

The Mother Shadow is an excellent introduction to Melodie Johnson Howe’s work and her upright and correct private detective Claire Conrad and leads to more Conrad-Hill mysteries which I look forward to reading. This is sleuth writing at its finest and deserves a wider audience. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Dec 18, 2014 |
I thought it was very good, and I'm disappointed that this obvious attempt at a female "buddy" series appears never to have taken off. It's openly a knockoff of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, which may have led to its demise. To its credit, the narrator is brassy and realistic, and the plot is complex and well thought out, but Claire Conrad, the Nero Wolfe character, is bizarre enough to not feel cuddly like Wolfe, and the few hints that we get of her character development don't really do much for us. The pair are accompanied by a James Bond-ish type, Ms. Conrad's butler, but it's never adequately explained why he buttles rather than earns millions of dollars as a hit man or something.

The plot revolves around an enjoyably eccentric and messed-up family of old money that is down on its luck, which presented some nice characters as well as some that really made me itch. I'll be looking for other books by this author. ( )
1 rösta benfulton | Nov 22, 2011 |
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Edgar Award Finalist: After a suicide, two oddball female sleuths investigate a coin collection that is anything but small change. Maggie Hill's life has become temporary. Her marriage was temporary, her jobs are temporary, and if work doesn't pick up, her time in California might be temporary, too. Her latest employer is Ellis Kenilworth, an aging coin expert with a first-rate collection and a tenth-rate family. One morning, he has Maggie type up a codicil to his will, changing the document so that his million-dollar rare-coin collection goes not to his kin, but to a woman named Claire Conrad. By the end of the day, the codicil has vanished, and Kenilworth has killed himself with a shotgun.   When the hyena-like family starts to circle Maggie, she reaches out to Conrad. The heiress is an eccentric private detective who wears only black and white--and whose sense of honesty is as clear-cut as her wardrobe. Together, they fight to protect an old man's final wish, battling against a family so greedy that they would steal the coins right out of the dead man's hand.

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