Review: Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency, by Susan Breen. Random House – Alibi.

maggie-dove-detectiveGentle Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove has started an exciting new career with her own detective agency–along with her business partner Agnes.   There’s just one problem: business is slow getting started, and Agnes is getting restless.


So when Racine Stern, one of the wealthiest residents of Maggie’s Hudson-on-Darby community, asks her help, Agnes is anxious for Maggie to take the case–but Maggie is reluctant. For Racine wants her “evil” sister, the flamboyant Domino, to be stopped from returning home after a long absence abroad. After hearing from the outraged Agnes, Maggie informs Racine that she will take her case, only to hear Racine say that it’s “too late.” Still, with Agnes pushing her, Maggie continues to investigate on Racine’s behalf.


Soon after Domino does arrive, Racine comes to Maggie again, saying her sister wanted to kill her. Racine shows Maggie the marks of a tarantula spider bite. It seem Domino has a pet tarantula named Charlotte, and Racine believes that the spider bite was no accident. But before things progress much further there is a stunning surprise when it is Domino who dies suddenly from a publicly viewed fall that appears to be a tragic accident.


Then, in an about-face, Racine drops her request for the services of Maggie’s agency; but about the same time Maggie, sensing the presence of evil in this complicated story, wants to find the truth and decides to forge ahead.


This is a complex and troubling story with Maggie feeling she is engaged in a battle between the forces of good and evil. There are witches, spells, psychedelic drugs, and the continued presence of Charlotte. This story tries Maggie’s beliefs and trust. Ultimately, she finds her way through her dilemma to the truth.


Now, here I must comment. I have a spider phobia, and when Charlotte appeared on the scene, I nearly exited the book. But I persisted out of a sense of duty to a commitment, also remembering that I read and enjoyed Breen’s initial Maggie Dove and actually requested to read and review this second book. I’m glad I persevered. For Charlotte’s is a cameo appearance, to enhance the “evil” scenario. Charlotte herself, I’m glad to report, is not actually a major player.


My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for making this advance copy available for me to read and review.

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