Murder as a Second Language

June 7, 2015 - Murder as a Second Language (Joan Hess). Bookstore owner Claire Malloy finds that no good deed goes unpunished when she agrees to fill a vacancy on the Board of Directors at the Farberville Literacy Council. Meetings seem unable to come to order, but that's a minor point compared to murder.

The victim in this case is a cranky, old Polish woman named Ludmila, found dead inside a copy room at the Literacy Council. Who would want to kill her and why? As the police investigate, Claire finds no shortage of suspects lurking among the characters at the council. It seems everyone has a secret of some kind, but were any of them secrets worth killing for?

Overall, not a bad read. There are a lot of plot lines, which helps the story move quickly. But, I think the multiple plot lines also detract from the main murder mystery. Ludmila, from what we're told by other characters, was not very likeable. So, other than the fact that here's a murder which must be solved because it's a murder, the reader has very little invested in finding out who killed her and why. And, when we finally do find out, we're just happy that someone is being brought to justice.

Hess does devote some attention to the characters we've grown to know and love over the years. Caron, Claire's teenage daughter, has finally outgrown her habit of talking in capital letters. And, Caron's friend, Inez, has suddenly blossomed. Claire, meanwhile, has hired an assistant to help run the bookstore, which gives her more time to pursue an interest in international cuisine. While I like Claire, let's hope her interest in cooking cools before the next book rolls around.