Death Gets A Time-Out

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Between juggling lunchboxes, piano lessons, and baby-sitters, public defender turned stay-at-home mom Juliet Applebaum promises to help her famous friend clear her brother's name of murder. But what will she do when she begins to suspect her friend may not be as innocent as she seems?

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Death Gets A Time-Out

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Between juggling lunchboxes, piano lessons, and baby-sitters, public defender turned stay-at-home mom Juliet Applebaum promises to help her famous friend clear her brother's name of murder. But what will she do when she begins to suspect her friend may not be as innocent as she seems?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The fourth mystery in Waldman's Mommy-Track series (after 2002's A Playdate with Death) gets off to a slow start, but repays reader perseverance in spades. Harried mother and PI Juliet Applebaum secures a new case from her old friend, film star Lilly Green. Lilly's stepbrother Jupiter Jones is incarcerated in the L.A. County jail, accused of raping and murdering his new, very young stepmother, Chloe Jones. Since the lawyer representing Jupiter thinks he's guilty, Lilly wants Juliet discreetly to assemble evidence for a mitigation defense. Juliet and her partner, Al Hockey, determine that given the character witnesses available to testify on Jupiter's behalf, their best bet is to find another suspect. Juliet and Al uncover all sorts of witnesses who refuse to talk-the director of a posh rehab clinic; the Very Reverend Polaris Jones, leader of a New-Age religious cult, widower of the victim and father of the accused; movers and shakers connected with the state assembly; and even Lilly. Soon the ground is littered with suspects who have reasons for wishing Chloe dead. Waldman skillfully unravels the intertwined relationships between all these characters to reveal a cunning murder plot. The sometimes overwrought Juliet and her patient husband make an appealing couple-funny, clever and loving (but never mawkish). Waldman has an excellent ear for the snappy comeback, especially when delivered by a five-year-old. (July 1) Forecast: The witty jacket art-of the big bad wolf sitting in a corner with Little Red Riding Hood's cloak and spilled basket in the foreground-will particularly amuse parents of young children. Booksellers might want to feature this and other titles in the series near or even in the kids' section. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Juliet Applebaum, one-time lawyer turned Hollywood stay-at-home mom and part-time sleuth, attempts to help the brother of an actress friend accused of killing his stepmother. As it turns out, the actress herself may be suspect. The result is a perky, enthusiastic, and infectious read. The author (Playdate with Death) is married to novelist Michael Chabon. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This fourth in a series (A Playdate with Death, 2002, etc.) finds part-time p.i./full-time mommy Juliet Appelbaum resolving three related murders while grappling with morning sickness. Juliet’s pal Lilly, who began her climb to Hollywood fame with an appearance in Juliet’s screenwriter husband’s horror flick, has a complicated family history. After years of therapy with Dr. Blackmore, whose reputation rests on his analysis of her case, "Little Girl Q," she remembers accidentally shooting her mom, Trudy-Ann, in Mexico when she was only a child. In the room at the time, she thinks, were her stepfather Polaris, now leader of the Church of Cosmological Unity, and her baby stepbrother Jupiter, now a relapsed druggie charged with capital murder for killing Polaris’s mantrap new wife Chloe, a former stripper, a blackmailer, and Jupiter’s sexual playmate. Who was Chloe blackmailing? Surely not Lilly’s stepparents, love-hungry Ralph and noble politico Beverly Green. Unless, of course, she knew that they too had been in Trudy-Ann’s room on that fateful day, and along with Dr. Blackmore, had been part of the same sleep-with-everybody California commune thirty years ago. Casting suspicion on all and sundry for the murders of Trudy-Ann and Chloe, Juliet has to rethink her surmises when Ralph is killed and Chloe’s mom seems to be next on the list. Waldman is at her witty best when dealing with children, carpooling, and first-trimester woes, but is no slouch at explaining the pitfalls of False Memory Syndrome either. Agent: Mary Evans
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425197127
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Series: Mommy-track Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.27 (w) x 6.79 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman currently lives with her writer-husband Michael Chabon and four children.


Some writers make it all look too easy. Take Ayelet Waldman, for example. The first novel she ever wrote -- heck, the first piece of creative writing she ever attempted -- was not only published, but it launched the successful Mommy-Track mystery series. Six years and eight novels later, Waldman is still wowing fans and critics alike while occasionally moving into more serious territory.

Waldman is most famous for her witty Mommy-Track mysteries, which follow the adventures of Juliet Applebaum. Like her creator, Juliet Applebaum is a former-public defender now playing the role of stay-at-home mom Unlike Waldman, Juliet breaks up her days of parenting with a little amateur sleuthing on the side. Waldman explained the origin of her beloved series during an interview at UC Berkley in 2004. "They grew out of this period in my life when I had left the public defender's office and I was staying home; I started writing them to keep myself entertained."

The novel that Waldman essentially wrote on a self-entertaining lark -- Nursery Crimes -- became the first in a series of lighthearted mysteries that clearly struck a chord among the writer's peers. "I think they kind of hit the market at a time that there were a lot of women like me," Waldman explained. "A lot of ex-lawyers, ex-doctors, ex-CEOs of companies who were finding themselves straight from the boardroom to the sandbox and kind of going crazy, so there was a ready audience for people who were not necessarily all that fulfilled by making homemade play-dough, but nonetheless realized where they were gonna be for the next couple of years."

After the initial four books in the Mommy-Track series (which included such tongue-in-cheek titles as The Big Nap and A Playdate With Death), Waldman decided to use her newfound literary success as an opportunity to try her hand at a non-series novel. "The more I wrote," she said, "the more I realized that [writing] was something that I really loved to do and I wanted to do more with it. I wanted to grow as a writer and I wanted to start writing more serious fiction." Daughter's Keeper, a tale that sheds some critical light on the War on Drugs, revealed that she was more than capable of handling heavier subject matter. As Publishers Weekly noted: "Waldman's passion and affection for her characters shines through."

Having broken into a new realm of writing, Waldman then delivered two more installments in the Juliet Applebaum adventures before penning her second non-series novel. Like all of her previous works, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits addresses Waldman's favorite subject, motherhood, but this time around she also touches on the grittier issues of grief and death. Once again, Waldman's foray outside of her popular series has proved a resounding success. In Chelsea Cain's laudatory review in The New York Times, she described Love and Other Impossible Pursuits as "a romantic, shocking and sometimes painful page-turner does the unthinkable: it actually says something new and interesting about women, families and love."

While more Mommy-Track mysteries are likely on the way from the prolific Waldman, the side roads she has taken thus far confirm that she is a writer willing to defy expectations.

In addition...
Waldman is also noted for the controversy that followed the publication of her 2005 essay "Motherlove." The essay, first published in the anthology Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race and Themselves, sparked a heated national debate about the nature of love, marriage, and motherhood.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Waldman:

"My children are my inspiration. I write about mothers, and about maternal ambivalence. No matter what I set out to do, it seems, I end up writing about that. My four kids have veto power on anything I write about them, but the only time it's ever been exercised is when my eight-year-old told me never to write about breastfeeding him ever again, as long as he and I both walked the earth."

"My husband and I both edit one another's work. Nothing leaves the house that the other hasn't gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

"Nursery Crimes, my first murder mystery, was the first piece of fiction -- the first piece of creative writing -- I ever did.

"I have no hobbies, other than reading. I love to read, and on my web site I keep a log of every book I read, along with a few words about the book and about what I thought. Check it out at

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    1. Hometown:
      Berkeley, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 11, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      Jerusalem, Israel
    1. Education:
      Wesleyan University, 1986; Harvard Law School, 1991
    2. Website:

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A delightful and at times whimsical mystery

    She went from a public defender to a stay-at-home mom but now that her two children are older, Juliet Applebaum is going into partnership with Al Hockey, a former investigator for the public defenders. They are opening up a private detective agency housed temporarily in Al¿s garage until they bring in enough money to have a real office. At a Hollywood charity function, Juliet runs into her good friend Lilly Green, a famous actress who is in desperate need of her firm¿s discrete services.<P> Lilly¿s stepbrother Jupiter Jones is accused of killing his stepmother Chloe, the wife of Polaris Jones who is the head of the Church of Cosmological Unity. Chloe was blackmailing Lilly and she asked Jupiter to help her put a stop it. She believes that Jupiter may have killed Chloe because of their close bond but when Juliet starts investigating she comes to believe that Jupiter didn¿t kill Chloe and that makes the real killer exceeding anxious to stop the investigation even if it means murdering again.<P> Although the subject matter of survivor guilt and repressed memories is very serious topics, Juliet¿s interactions with her husband and children bring a note of much need of humor to the somber story line. Readers will be particularly tickled to realize that Juliet is pregnant again and her reaction to this unexpected event is truly memorable. DEATH GETS A TIME-OUT is darker in tone than the previous works in this series but it is just as good.<P> Harriet Klausner

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