Publisher submission in exchange for an honest review.
Murder Is A Family Business
January 1, 2011
Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez doesn't think so. But the 34-year old ½ Latina, ½ WASP and 100% detective has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve. Set in the present, Murder is a Family Business is the first in a series of humorous mysteries revolving around Lee Alvarez, a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’ Stephanie Plum, and rest of the Alvarez Family, detectives all. Seemingly light and frothy on the surface, the novel nevertheless explores familial love, the good, the bad and the annoying.
Completing the family is Lee’s Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day aristocratic mother, Lila; computer genius brother, Richard; beloved uncle “Tio;” and her energetic orange and white cat, Tugger. When this group is not solving murders, they run Discretionary Inquiries, a successful Silicon Valley agency that normally deals with the theft of computer software. The love, humor and camaraderie shared within this family are what set this series apart from others.
I don’t know that I would really call Murder is a Family Business a romance. It’s really more of a detective story, but that certainly didn’t stop it from being fabulous. I’m actually pretty excited to read the next couple of books in the series (book two is due in May and book three is in the process of being written).
This was a nice change from all of the romance I’ve been reading lately. I fell in love with this book within the first few pages. Family plays a huge part in the plot, and what a family it is. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much – the characters are very reminiscent of my own family, at least personality wise.
So here’s the gist of the story: the Alvarez family runs a private detective agency, focusing on crimes of software piracy. They are asked by a family friend to investigate her husband, and so they branch out from their typical case load. The story is told from the point of view of Lee, the Alvarez daughter, who has a tendency to jump into things without necessarily thinking of the consequences. Her internal monologues are like something straight out of an episode of Gilmore Girls (one of my favorite shows ever, so please, take that as a compliment). Even at the more serious moments in the book, Lee would think something that would have me laughing.
Like I said, the Alvarez family makes up the cast of characters. There’s Lila, the 100% WASP, would fit in perfectly on a New England estate, mother, who somehow manages to maintain her composure, hairstyle, and keep her pearls in place even in the face of danger. Then there’s Richard, the slightly eccentric computer genius, who would probably live in his mother’s basement if he didn’t have a trust fund. And finally there’s the lovable uncle, Tio Mateo. Throw in an overprotective police detective, a few illegal Chinese immigrants, a colorful diner waitress, and a girl whose taste in hats makes Lady Gaga’s fashion choices seem mainstream, and you’ve got yourself quite the adventure.
For me, this was a great book. The writing was clever and I couldn’t stop laughing. This is the perfect beach book. And I’m actually pretty excited that the second book in the series comes out just as I’m planning to head to the beach in May. I can’t wait to see the antics of the Alvarez family continue.