by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Ellison Russell Jones (the Jones part is new!) has just returned from her idyllic honeymoon through Europe with her husband, Homicide Detective Anarchy Jones. She’s rather reluctant to return to the socialite lifestyle of 1975’s Kansas City, Missouri, especially since she’s gained an undeniable but unintentional reputation as a body finder. For once, she has the legitimate alibi of being out of the country when Muriel Jarrett, the detestable mother of Prudence Davies, was suffocated to death in her home. Ellison has absolutely no connection or reason to investigate, and in fact has more than enough of an excuse to not help Prudence, the woman who still proudly identifies as being one of Ellison’s late husband’s mistresses.
What Ellison cannot ignore is her mother Frances, who is hospitalized after her car is intentionally hit and pushed into an intersection. Torn between denial and belief that this must all be Ellison’s fault, Frances tasks Ellison with an endless list of social obligations and thank you notes. Blending together households is hard enough when one has a precocious teenaged daughter, a Weimaraner dog, and a life-blood-providing Mr. Coffee, and that’s before adding in Anarchy’s own dog-hating cat and a semi truck full of family furniture. Contentious socialites press for gossip and widely hint for Ellison to get inside info from Anarchy on the investigation, and for the first time, investigators ask for her help in getting the closed-mouthed community to open up. Another attack definitively meant for Ellison infuriates Anarchy and ensures that she will do everything she can to track down the killer of one of the most unlikable women in the upscale Kansas City community.
In this fourteenth of the series it’s more difficult than ever to see Ellison pulled back into the judgmental, obligation-filled lifestyle dominated by her mother and neighbors. The talented artist was only able to explore her capabilities after the death of her philandering, embezzler of a husband, and Europe’s outstanding art museums, galleries, and designer boutiques only make returning back to her “real” world all the more frustrating. After a bumpy start, Ellison’s and her mother’s interactions settle back into a more honest, if still fractious, relationship. The car accident also brings back into town Ellison’s sister Marjorie, but the sisters form a united front when facing the demanding nature of their mother. Taking duties in shifts proves to be surprisingly effective, even as Marjorie experiences a little schadenfreude with Ellison’s renewed status as a newlywed. Ellison is spiraling out a little at times, panicking at the news that not only does Anarchy not refill Mr. Coffee, he horrifically seems to enjoy raisins.
The novel hits its high note as Ellison gathers her confidence and faces down her judgmental neighbors, disapproving mother, and condescending police officers. Her wry humor continues to be a standout, and it’s a true delight to see it spread to Ellison’s daughter Grace. They are our heroes in this time bottle of 1975 high society Kansas City, and so much joy and satisfaction results from their catching killers, defying expectations, and annoying the patriarchy. That Ellison can still find true love and her perfect match is a testament to her will, wit, and resilience. This continues to be a unique, exciting, and very fun exploration back into 1975 and all of the complications within it.
To enter to win a signed copy of Evil Woman, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “evil,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 11, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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