Claire Guthrie shoots and wounds her husband (Jim Guthrie) the same night that Florence Dodson, Kelly O’Connell’s former neighbor, supposedly falls down her back steps, hits her head, and dies. Kelly knows it’s murder, but she has a hard time convincing Mike Shandy, whose heading up the investigation.
She also has a hard time explaining why she gave Claire refuge in her guest apartment. Mike is adamant that she stay out of police matters for more than one reason, the first being romance. But then, with another murder, it’s clear someone is targeting elderly women in Fairmount, and panic invades the neighborhood.
Jim Guthrie dies in an automobile accident—or was it an accident? Kelly’s real estate business plunges. Who buys a house in a neighborhood with a serial killer? And in the midst of it all, Kelly’s mom decides to move to Fort Worth from Chicago.
Jim Guthrie dies in an automobile accident—or was it an accident? Will Kelly solve her differences with Mike? Will Claire be convicted of murder? Will Kelly’s mom be safe and yet not dependent on her? And most important, will Kelly be able to identify the serial killer and restore peace to her Fairmount neighborhood. No Neighborhood for Old Women holds some real surprises.
The first twenty pages of No Place for Old Women drew me in. The set up and premise is delightfully wicked. First, you have a murder, then a fed up wife shoots her husband in the buttocks. At the end of those pages, I’m left wondering how Alter, the writer, will bring those two elements together and not let them compete with one another for the main plot.
By the end, I wasn’t disappointed. She did a great job plotting to get the shooting and murder(s); yes, there was more than one, to work. It became clear that the murder(s) was her main plot and the shooting was a subplot. And, because both were equally interesting it would have been difficult to make one more important than the other; Alter created what can only be described as a perfect seam between the two keeping them on the same piece of cloth, very nice.
After creating this story and putting together a well thought out plan, Atler added a bunch of other stuff I’d like to call tea-time, something I read in a book called Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Mass. Teatime is so ineffective in a novel Mr. Maass dedicated a whole chapter to tell you so. Teatime makes me sleepy and it interferes with a good story, and believe me this is a good story. I found Alter spent a lot of time on Kelly O’Connell’s inner life when I wanted to hear more about the murders and how she was solving them rather than what she planned to do about her love life with Mike.
This brings me to the character of Kelly O’Connell, who was likable enough, but not as interesting as the murders. In fact, she was very run of the mill, a single mom with very ordinary problems who wanted love, and the best for her kids. There wasn’t much to like or dislike about her; therefore I wanted to hear about the murders, and I never felt like Kelly was ever in danger until – well, I won’t give too much away, but the stakes needed to be raised a lot sooner.
In the end, I would say it was a grand novel that is well put together and I would recommend it.
No Neighborhood for Old Women is available on Amazon and Turquoise Morning Press' site at thttp://www.turquoisemorningpress.com/2012/04/judy-alters-latest-no-neighborhood-for.html