Thursday, August 18, 2011
Murder On The Mother Road by Brenda Weathers
Publisher: New Victoria Publishers
Brenda Weathers wrote what can only be described as a delightful little mystery in her Murder on the Mother Road. Though the main character is a lesbian, there isn't a romance as such in this story. A tricky mystery with lots of twists and turns and interesting characters is what it is.
Libby Merchant is middle aged and has survived breast cancer and her partner walking out on her for a younger woman. Now, what she likes to do is get in her RV and go, just go. She is on her way to Albuquerque to join friends for a balloon festival when she decides to get off on old Route 66, "the Mother Road," and take the scenic route. She has no way of knowing when she stops for coffee at the Knight's Rest Motel and Café that she is going to meet an old college sorority sister and be drawn into a murder mystery. Libby remembers Janet Winterspoon as an attractive, wealthy, kind woman, not as the feeble stroke victim she finds wandering in the café's parking lot. When she discovers that Janet's brother Claude has died in their Winnebago, she takes it upon herself to help Janet until her family can arrive to take over. Libby will now be thrown in with a gaggle of kooky and sometimes dangerous characters, plus another murder, and she is forced to try to solve the mystery when she realizes that she's looking like a suspect. Who would want to kill two elderly people? And why?
From the picture on the back of the book, it was clear that Brenda Weathers was a follower of the RV life herself and her knowledge of that world added rich details to her story that give it a feeling of authenticity. Libby notices little things about the Winterspoon's RV that don't make sense, and these add to the mystery surrounding them.
It's the characters in the book though that are the best part. Libby is an aging, slightly overweight adventuress who feels the limitations of her age but refuses to give into them. There is a scene where she has to make a run for her life that will also have the reader laughing at her thoughts about her need to diet as she's doing it. Hazel Tutt is the imposing owner of the Knight's Rest who rules with an iron hand, lives for economic opportunity and serves gourmet meals, when she feels like it. Her boyfriend Billy Ray is the trial of her life since he can't ever seem to show up for anything on time. The amazing thing is that it never occurs to him to buy a watch until Libby suggests it. There's the Winterspoon's niece Myra who loves nothing better than to crawl into a liquor bottle and then into the bed of any available male; and her brother Sonny, who comes and goes as he has to indulge his gambling habit and wager away the family fortune. David DiMarco appears to be of sterling quality as he raises money to help abandoned animals, but why is he so reluctant to help the Winterspoons when he claims he was so close to them? Do any of them have a true interest that goes beyond finding the elusive Winterspoon wills? And leading them all is Sugar, the abandoned bull dog, who is just looking for someone to take her in, especially if she can make it Libby.
Murder on the Mother Road is an enjoyable book to read. You won't really figure out who did what until the end of the book, which is always a plus in a mystery. In the meantime, you'll get to enjoy some interesting characters and glimpses into a different way of life. This is worth spending some time with.