Murder Melts in Your Mouth
by Nancy Martin

New American Library, a division of Penguin Group, 2008. ISBN 978-0-451-22311-1.
Reviewed by Becky Lane
Posted on 02/19/2008

Fiction: Mystery

This book is a great read for anyone who enjoys character-driven whodunnits, featuring amateur sleuths who can't seem to go anywhere without stumbling upon a crime. It is the seventh in a series featuring three Blackbird sisters who were raised among the old Philadelphia Main Line rich. After their parents run through their own inheritance, bilk their friends, and drain their daughters' trust funds, they skip the country to avoid the IRS, and the girls are left holding the bag. To make ends meet, and because attending parties was the one thing she could do really well, Nora Blackbird goes to work as the society editor at the local newspaper.

When Nora's sister Libby is involved in an accident, she checks herself into the Ritz to recuperate and sends her five hyperactive kids to stay with Nora at Blackbird Farm, the dilapidated Bucks County farmhouse Nora inherited when her parents took a powder. On top of this, Nora is head over heels in love with Michael, the son of a New Jersey crime boss. Michael keeps far too many secrets, as well as an extra set of license plates in the trunk of his car.

Nora has been assigned to cover the big Chocolate Festival that is being held in town, and she could use some help with the kids, but can't seem to track down her little sister Emma. After buying several ponies to teach riding lessons at the farm, Emma has disappeared and left Nora to take care of them. The situation reaches critical mass when Nora's best friend, Lexie Paine, discovers that large sums of money are missing from her clients' accounts. Everything points to her semi-retired partner Hoyt Cavendish. Hoyt loves the limelight, and has been stealing money from their clients in order to play the role of big philanthropist. He also has a very dark secret in his past. Shortly after Lexie confronts him with her suspicions, he falls mysteriously to his death from a balcony in their office. Lexie is being questioned by the police concerning his death, Nora suspects there is something going on between Michael and Emma, and Nora's parent's have shown up out of the blue, claiming to be working with the Treasury Department in an undercover investigation.

All of this makes for a fun-filled read, reminiscent of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mysteries. I found Nora's relatives to be every bit as looney as Stephanie's, but a good bit more irritating. Had they been my relatives, I probably would have been the one under investigation for murder. I also found it difficult to identify with people who have old money and attend balls. (My idea of getting ready for a big dance is pulling on my boots and tossing some sawdust on the dance floor.) However, Nora definitely has an advantage over Stephanie when it comes to food and fashion. This book satisfied my cravings for both chocolate and chic clothing. I especially enjoyed reading about the ensembles that Nora manages to pull together by raiding her late grandmother's closet full of vintage designer fashions.

On the whole, I found Murder Melts in Your Mouth to be a very enjoyable read, grabbing my attention within the first few pages, holding it with enough plot twists to keep me guessing, and making me want to go back and read the other books in the series.

Nancy Martin started out as a romance writer because she was desperate to get out of teaching and—romance being one of the more lucrative writing genres—she figured it would be a good way to work from home while raising her two daughters. Once they were both out of school, she decided to take a stab at her true passion, murder mysteries. According to Nancy, "I don't write noir. I write nutty." She is a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania. Visit her website.

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