Asking for Murder, by Roberta Isleib
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.
Welcome to today’s stop on Roberta Isleib’s blog tour. Asking for Murder is the third Advice Column Mystery and Isleib’s eighth book.
Dr. Rebecca Butterman is a clinical psychologist and part-time advice columnist with a penchant for amateur sleuthing. At the outset of this installment, Rebecca discovers her friend, Annabelle, severely beaten and left for dead. Rebecca, of course, sets out to discover what happened to her friend.
Though not technically a murder mystery (rather a coma mystery), this book had all of the other tenets of the genre. The red herrings abound. The frightening events occur in rapid succession. The culprit was revealed in a climactic scene. The ending seemed a little rushed, but I tend to think that about most mysteries.
This book works as a stand alone story. Though I have not read the previous two books in this series, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Isleib did a good job of updating the reader without belaboring the past. Still, there were a few loose ends that seemed to be more set up for the fourth book than I prefer.
In all, this was an interesting and compelling story. The writing flowed pretty well, the character development was generally believeable, and Rebecca was a likeable narrator. Mystery lovers will enjoy this quick and eventful story.
Asking for Murder, by Roberta Isleib [rating:3]
* INTERVIEW WITH ROBERTA ISLEIB *
The talented Ms. Roberta Isleib was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
TBS: As a clinical psychologist yourself, why did you choose to make your sleuth, Rebecca Butterman, one as well?
RI: I am a clinical psychologist and I had a therapy practice in New Haven, very similar to that of my character. It turns out that the work of a therapist is similar to a detective—identify problems (the crime), understand the history (tracking clues), and finding solutions (solving the crime!) So it was a natural progression. My psychologist character is quite good at understanding what makes people tick, both in her office and outside. And she’s a little nosy—a prerequisite for an amateur sleuth.
TBS: Why did you decide to have Annabelle be in a coma rather than be murdered?
RI: Honestly, I loved the character too much to kill her off! And I could imagine writing the scenes in which Rebecca is sitting by her unconscious friend’s bedside, talking about the case—and their boyfriends. I’m always looking for ways to increase tension. In a way, killing a character releases tension—or at least it must shift to another relationship.
TBS: This book deals a lot with sandplay therapy. Did you use such therapy in your practice? Why did you use it in this book?
RI: I knew very little about it. Luckily I found a wonderful sandplay therapist who walked me through the details. Based on the theories of Carl Jung, this therapy bypasses the conscious mind by having the patient choose figurines and place them in a sand tray. Then therapist and patient discover the meaning together. It’s fascinating!
TBS: Will you tell us a little bit about your writing habits? When do you write? Do you have any superstitious writing protocols (do you have to wear a flannel shirt or a funky hat or twirl in a circle ten times before sitting down to write)?
RI: No twirling or funny hats, though I do have a bad email obsession that I’m working on:). Once you have a contract, writing is no longer optional. (Since this is my eighth book, it’s a little hard to remember when it was optional. . . .) That means I have a page count goal that I set each week in order to meet my publisher’s deadline. And since missing a deadline seems unprofessional, I’m pretty good at keeping up. Another way to say it: Writing is still my passion, but now it’s my profession too!
TBS: How many more installments can we expect in the Advice Column Mystery series? Do you have any other future projects up your sleeve?
RI: At the moment, there are no plans for future installments. We’ll see how this one goes. I’m working on a new novel involving a psychologist floundering in her own life despite a hugely successful bestseller on finding happiness.
TBS: What book(s) are you reading right now? What are your favorite books? Who are your favorite authors?
RI: I just finished Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett—a memoir about her friendship with poet Lucy Grealy. Bel Canto was one of my favorite novels, so I loved having a window into this gifted writer’s life. Lessons learned? Even talented and successful writers struggle to find their voice and their audience. And Write Every Day!
Thanks, Roberta! Best of luck to you with your new book and future projects!