September 21, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Nina Simon’s Mother-Daughter Murder Night Is A Compelling, Light-Hearted Mystery

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon-Summary

Goodreads summary (review below) of Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon:

A fun, fresh, and twisty debut whodunnit about a grandmother-mother-daughter trio who come together as amateur sleuths to solve a murder in their coastal California town.

Nothing brings a family together like a murder next door.

High-powered businesswoman Lana Rubicon has a lot to be proud of: her keen intelligence, impeccable taste, and the L.A. real estate empire she’s built. But when she finds herself trapped 300 miles north of the city, convalescing in a sleepy coastal town with her adult daughter Beth and teenage granddaughter Jack, Lana is stuck counting otters instead of square footage—and hoping that boredom won’t kill her before cancer does. Then Jack—tiny in stature but fiercely independent—happens upon a dead body while kayaking near their bungalow. Jack quickly becomes a suspect in the homicide investigation, and the Rubicon women are thrown into chaos.

Beth thinks Lana should focus on recovery, but Lana has a better idea. She’ll pull on her wig, find the true murderer, protect her family, and prove she still has power. With Jack and Beth’s help, Lana uncovers a web of lies, family vendettas, and land disputes lurking beneath the surface of a community populated by folksy conservationists and wealthy ranchers. But as their amateur snooping advances into ever-more dangerous territory, the headstrong Rubicon women must learn to do the one thing they’ve never tried: trust each other.

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon-Review

I think Nina Simon was aiming for a Finlay Donovan or Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers vibe (reviews linked). However, it doesn’t quite get there. It is missing just a little on multiple fronts. Mother-Daughter Movie Night isn’t as funny, heart-warming, or thrilling as the Finlay Donovan Series or Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. That being said, Nina Simon delivers a solid, compelling (bordering on cozy) mystery. Even if Mother-Daughter Murder Night doesn’t reach the heights of Finlay or Vera, it is definitely an enjoyable read.

Without a doubt, the strongest part of Mother-Daughter Murder Night is the family dynamics between three generations of Rubicon women. Lana, the headstrong, show-stealing Grandmother, her fiercely independent daughter Beth, and her feisty granddaughter Jack (Jacqueline) “Tiny” Rubicon. While Lana battles cancer, she is also battling her daughter Beth, who is scarred from Lana not supporting her teenage pregnancy. Since then, Beth has been steadfast in her determination to support Jack and herself without her mother’s help. Meanwhile, Jack loves both women fiercely.

Summary Review

Thank you to William Morrow for the advanced audio copy of Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon, releasing September 5th.

When Jack finds a dead body while working a kayaking tour, the three women must find a way to come together and clear Jack’s name. By then, Lana is so wrapped up in this mystery, feeling the strength and purpose desperately needed during chemotherapy, that she decides she will solve this case (much to the detectives’ aggravation). And for good measure, she will drag Beth and Jack right along with her. What Mother-Daughter Murder Night lacks in suspense, it makes up for with these delightful characters and an interesting supporting cast.

The pacing is a bit inconsistent. It is slow at times, even at others, and a speed demon towards the end. Similarly, Nina Simon’s writing (Mother-Daughter Murder Night was written while caring for her mother, who had cancer) is a tad inconsistent, but when it hits? It hits.

‘So, Lana, I hear you have lung cancer?’ Diana almost choked on her wine. Lana gazed up at the man, nuetrally, as if he asked if she had enough salad.

Final Thoughts And Audiobook

The production of the audiobook left a bit to be desired. This doesn’t include the narrator, Jane Oppenheimer, who did a fantastic job. The story does change points of view, and it would have been helpful to be told whose point of view we were going into at the beginning of each chapter.

Overall, Mother-Daughter Murder Night has its faults and shortcomings but is still worth the read if you enjoy light-hearted mysteries.

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