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by Roberta Isleib
Berkley, September 2008
239 pages
ISBN: 0425223310

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sometimes doing what one thinks is right puts one between a very hard rock and a very hard place. Dr Rebecca Butterman, psychologist and advice columnist, finds herself in just such a spot when one of her friends is assaulted. Not only is Annabelle Hart a friend, she is an associate. The two women have agreed to cover for each other‛s practices in the unlikely event of a major emergency. That emergency is here; Rebecca really doesn‛t know a whole lot about Annabelle‛s specialty, sandplay therapy. So she‛s not very comfortable with how she‛s handling the patients, and she‛s not at all comfortable with how the police are handling the investigation.

Then there‛s her personal life. Her long-distance romance with Bob is getting a little warmer: he wants her to meet his parents. Rebecca isn‛t sure she‛s ready for this, and she knows she has absolutely no desire whatsoever to play golf with Bob‛s father. Detective Meigs is out of his jurisdiction, and being even less helpful than usual. Rebecca and Bob were supposed to have dinner with Annabelle and her new beau, a carpenter named Russ. The dinner takes place, with a different friend of Rebecca‛s standing in for Annabelle. It does not go well. Rebecca has a major meltdown; Russ leaves in a huff. To top it all off, Annabelle‛s sister Victoria is as warm and sharing as a slug, so Rebecca can‛t get a handle on Annabelle‛s condition.

Rebecca is convinced that the attack is not a burglary gone bad, as the police have decided. The viciousness of the attack leads her to believe that the best suspect is one of Annabelle‛s patients. But which one? Other suspects make themselves known, and Rebecca really feels out of her depth and unsupported. Still, she can‛t share patient information with the police so she feels she must check them out for herself. Not always the smartest move a person can make, but a plot device that has worked well for lots of other writers.

ASKING FOR MURDER is Rebecca‛s third foray into the realm of amateur sleuthing. She‛s getting good at it, although her personal issues tend to get in her way sometimes. She continues to work on those issues, trying to become a better person and a better therapist. While the astute reader may suspect where the romantic arc of this series is going, given Isleib‛s skills as a writer, one hesitates to bet a large sum on that possibility. It will be interesting and enjoyable to see how Rebecca‛s life shakes out in the next book or two.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, August 2008

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