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Murder Plays House

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The Applebaums, with a new arrival on the way, must find a bigger house. But in the tough L.A. real estate market, you practically have to kill to find a house. So no wonder Juliet is prepared to overlook a corpse on the grounds of her dream house. To gain the owner's favor, Juliet promises him she'll find his sister's killer.
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Murder Plays House

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Overview

The Applebaums, with a new arrival on the way, must find a bigger house. But in the tough L.A. real estate market, you practically have to kill to find a house. So no wonder Juliet is prepared to overlook a corpse on the grounds of her dream house. To gain the owner's favor, Juliet promises him she'll find his sister's killer.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Waldman's fifth well-plotted Mommy-Track mystery (after 2003's Death Gets a Time-Out), PI and former public defender Juliet Applebaum, with another baby on the way, needs a new home almost as badly as she and her partner in her PI business, Al Hockey, need a new case. When in doubt, shop, so Juliet goes house hunting. One place she looks at really stands out-the one with the body in the bath. It seems a solution is at hand to both problems: if Juliet and Al can solve the murder, then Juliet and her family can buy the house. But who would kill a washed-up, bit-part actress? The deeper Juliet and Al dig, the more motives they find for the victim to have murdered someone herself. Juliet is a wonderful invention, warm, loving and sympathetic to those in need, but unintimidated by the L.A. entertainment industry she must enter to search for clues. An underlying theme concerns the extraordinary lengths to which people go to look beautiful, and the great weight put on physical appearance in determining success in Hollywood. The suspense builds slowly-it takes almost the full length of the book before a motive for the vicious killing becomes clear-but what a motive, what a resolution and how clever of Juliet to figure everything out. Agent, Mary Evans. (July 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Food for thought from a defense attorney turned mommy turned private eye in her spare time (Death Takes a Time-Out, 2003, etc.). Juliet Applebaum interrupts her third pregnancy snacking (Krispy Kremes and root-beer floats) to look for a bigger house for her SF screenwriter husband Peter and their expanding brood. Unfortunately, her dream house comes with the emaciated corpse of former actress Alicia Felix in the bathtub. Alicia's gay designer brother decides to hold off selling the house, but Juliet makes him an offer he can't refuse: She and her sleuthing partner Al Hockey will figure out who killed big sis if she gets first dibs when the house comes back on the market. Suspicion falls on the designer's lover Farzad, then on an actress who stole Alicia's improv character, renamed it Bingie McPurge, and turned it into a TV success. But Juliet's snooping stops for frequent snacks and force-feedings of her six-year-old daughter Ruby, who insists she's on a diet, before moving on to question the cadre of skinny girls at the memorial service for Alicia's online protegee Halley, a teen who internalized all too well her dad's love of size-2 women. Juliet doesn't get the house, but settles for one almost as grand, with a nice roomy kitchen. Witty Waldman is so endearingly pro-kid that you may run right out and get pregnant, and so unsparing about Hollywood sylphs and pro-anorexia websites that you may never diet again. Agent: Mary Evans
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425196359
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Series: Mommy-Track Mysteries Series , #5
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayelet Waldman

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

Biography

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 www.ayeletwaldman.com

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2004

    A delightful mystery

    She was a public defender but after giving birth to two children, Juliet Appleton quit to become a full time mother. When she became bored, she and her friend Al opened up their own private investigate business that still doesn¿t pay their salaries. When Juliet discovers that she is pregnant for a third time, she realizes it time to move into a house with lots of rooms. Her husband Peter, a horror screenwriter, agrees with her. Juliet finds the perfect house for her family........................... After inspecting the home and loving every inch of it, Juliet looks in the guest house where she finds Alicia Felix, the owner¿s sister, dead in the bathtub, her body knifed countless times. When she talks to Felix about buying the home he tells her he is grieving for his sister and is not ready to move. Juliet agrees to represent Felix and his lover Farzad in their dealings with the police; she and Farzad agree that she will be given special consideration to buy the house if she finds the killer. It¿s not easy being eight months pregnant and conducting a homicide investigation but Juliet tries anyway........................ Ayelet Waldman¿s mommy Track mysteries get progressively feistier and wittier mainly due to the situations the protagonist finds herself in. Juliet is outrageous as she investigates and sometimes with her two children accompanying her interviews a suspect who might yield information that will lead to the killer. MURDER PLAYS HOUSE is a well thought out mystery that uses a social problem as the basis for the killing. Readers will adore Juliet and her two (no make that three) munchkins............................. Harriet Klausner

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