Reviews for Murders by Design Mysteries


     
K. Branfield "Book Reviews & More by Kathy" for The Monet Murders

      Jean Harrington's The Monet Murders is an entertaining and engaging murder mystery. This second installment of the Murders by Design series takes place a few months after the end of Designed for Death. Following her discovery of a dead body in her clients' mansion, Deva Dunne is once again smack dab in the middle of an intriguing murder investigation.

      With the one year anniversary of her husband's death looming, Deva is making substantial progress working through her grief over his loss. Her fledging design business is picking up, but success is still far from certain. Deva has an uncanny knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and although Lt. Victor Rossi has warned her to keep out of the investigation, she cannot help but investigate the clues she uncovers.

      Neighbor Simon Yaeger is still a key player in Deva's life. His romantic interest in Deva has not waned and he unabashedly pursues her. Deva is unsure what her feelings for her charming neighbor are. When she discovers his connections to the murder victims, he is once again added to her suspect list.

      As if tracking down a killer is not enough to occupy her, Deva must also figure out why Lt. Rossi keeps popping into her thoughts at the most inopportune moments. With Lt. Rossi under orders to stay away from her, Deva finds herself missing the gruff but sexy detective.

      The Monet Murders is a superbly crafted novel that is full of unexpected twists and turns. Once again, Jean Harrington provides a lengthy suspect list and keeps her readers guessing the killer's identity. A fabulous read that leaves me eagerly anticipating Killer Kitchens, the next installment in the Murders by Design series.
     
Kari Anderson's Amazon review for Designed for Death

      There are many things that determine how I judge a book including characters, emotion, writing, overall design, creativity within the novel…those all make up pieces of my book blogging puzzle.

      From the beginning of this book, I fell in love with several characters. Deva is mourning the death of her husband and moved to Florida to get as far away from her previous life as possible. She has a knack for design and uses it to help her forget. Don’t we all do that from time to time? Get so into our work or a hobby that it helps us cope with hard feelings? But there are several characters in Deva’s life that help her feel a breath of fresh air. Although she is not there long, Treasure is a ray of transvestite hope, along with her former lover. Then there are multiple men in this book who are swoon-worthy, from the soon-to-be divorced upstairs neighbor to the Hawaiian shirt wearing investigator.

      The mystery in this book kept me turning the pages. I also have a hunch at some point as to who the killer is in books like these, but most of the time, the real suspect is merely a glimmer that doesn’t last long. That happened here. I thought I knew, then clues turned me in a different direction, but then I was back to where I started. The motive for the murder is what held me up. Definitely not what I thought it was going to be. Dang motives, tripping up my detective game.

      This book was filled with emotion. The pain that Deva has for the loss of her husband is heart breaking. Any married woman, or any woman in love can relate with how they would feel in this scenario. What would I do in this situation? Where would I go? Would I be able to work? Although this book was a murder mystery, with drama and suspense, it also was thought provoking. And there were also the nuggets of funny, that showed hope and brought out a part of Deva you hoped she wouldn’t lose in all her sadness.

      Good news, I felt like I grew close to Deva and want to see her grow and move forward, and also want to see which of her many suitors she chooses as her next love interest, and I think I’m going to have the chance to do that. On Jean Harrington’s website, it says this is the first in a series. Woo!


Philip K. Jason "Florida Weekly Newspaper" review for Designed for Death

     After "The Barefoot Queen" and "In the Lion's Mouth," two exciting and carefully researched Irish historical romances set during the Renaissance period, Jean Harrington has shifted gears to the here and now. The here in "Designed for Death" is the beachfront condo world of Naples; the now refers to the world of e-publishing as well as to the timeframe for the novel.

      The author's connection with Carina Press puts her inside the Harlequin empire. Carina is a division of Harlequin devoted to e-publishing on a large scale. Certain Carina Press titles may later be selected for print publication.

      "Designed for Death" takes place in and around the fictional but probable complex of Surfside, where recently widowed interior designer Devalera "Deva" Dunne has settled to restart her life. Little does she know what her new community has in store for her.

      Deva is attempting to re-establish her interior design career by helping Surfside's owner, Dick Parker, turn rental apartments into condos. She's also getting business from new condo owners who are looking to individualize their homes. One of these clients is a tall, striking woman named Treasure, once a regular at the Foxy Lady Lounge on Route 951. Deva and Treasure are getting along fine selecting the ingredients for the classic Hollywood decor Treasure desires. Before long, however, Deva finds Treasure murdered in the condo - a gruesome ending to a brief friendship.

      Not satisfied with Lt. Victor Rossi's official investigation, Deva begins her own sleuthing, much to the handsome policeman's dismay. Emotionally vulnerable after the loss of her husband, Deva is suspicious of the advances of several Surfside residents: (supposed) bachelor Simon Yeager, Neal Tomson and the married Mr. Parker, who is Deva's main source of income. Or could either of the bickering partners Chip and AudreyAnn be guilty of infidelity and murder? And what about Faye LaBelle, drag queen extraordinaire?

      The book's notable scenes include Deva's visit to the Foxy Lady Lounge, where she picks up pieces of information and witnesses the colorful performance of drag queen Hedda Lettuce. Another is Treasure's funeral, more like an Irish wake, in which good memories and high spirits help friends and acquaintances cope with their loss.

      As Deva's investigation advances, she is always butting heads with Rossi. There are signs that he might be attracted to her and that his gruff warnings for her to leave the police work to him are motivated by something other than professional policy or pride.

      Aside from the expected twists and turns of a well-developed mystery story, "Designed for Death" has other special attractions. The novel makes use of Deva's training to present an abundance of nicely handled details about interior design. This focus provides an interesting way of creating insights into character, as people's taste in design reveals a lot about them.

      For readers who know Naples well, references to several eateries - Mel's Diner, St. George and two nearly adjacent places, one an Irish Pub and the other named Island Grill - make for enjoyable "ah-hah" moments of recognition. Ms. Harrington’s portrayal of the Naples ambience is one of this book's many charms.

      Not so very charming, but equally effective in building tension, is the way the author integrates awareness of the approaching hurricane season, eventually leading to a climax involving the terrors of a storm named Caroline that pins Deva down while Treasure's murderer moves to put an end to Deva's sleuthing. All through "Designed for Death" we learn much about Deva's background, her relationship with her late husband and, in the unfolding present, her manner of coping with that enormous loss. One would expect that the author would not have drawn such an elaborate portrait had she not intended to put Deva to work in future novels. Meanwhile, enjoy this one.

      (Since this review first appeared, the author has learned Designed for Death will be published in print form in December 2012 as a part of Harlequin's Worldwide Mystery Library.)




Listed and Lethal Mysteries




Murder On Pea Pike (#1)
Excerpt | Purchase


Murders By Design Mysteries




The Design Is Murder (#5)
Excerpt | Purchase

Rooms To Die For (#4)
Excerpt | Purchase


Killer Kitchens (#3)
Excerpt | Purchase


Monet Murders (#2)
Excerpt | Purchase


Designed For Death (#1)
Excerpt | Purchase


The Barefoot Queen
Excerpt


In The Lion's Mouth
Excerpt