"Are you feeling overwhelmed?"
What an understatement. One infant, three murders, a jailed husband, and a new career. No. I wasn't overwhelmed! (from Bundle of Trouble, page 184)
Bundle of Trouble is the first book in Diana Orgain's Maternal Instincts Mystery series, which centers on amateur sleuth and young mother Kate Connolly. In this first installment, Kate learns that her brother-in-law's belongings were found on a pier on the San Francisco Bay in the general vicinity where a body was recovered, then immediately goes into labor and delivers a baby girl, Laurie. Soon after the birth, Kate and her husband, Jim, learn that the murder victim isn't George, but George may somehow be involved in the crime.
George is the black sheep of the family; he can't hold a job, might be homeless, and is virtually impossible to reach. After Kate re-connects with an old high school friend who happens to be the wife of the man whose body was found in the bay, someone breaks into Kate's car, she finds her friend dead, and is questioned by both the police and a private investigator hired by her friend's mother-in-law. Meanwhile, Kate is learning the ropes of parenthood, enjoying all the one-on-one time with her daughter, and trying not to think about the fact that she will have to return to work in a few weeks. When she realizes that the private investigator makes $200 per hour to drive around and ask people questions, Kate embarks on a journey to find the murderer, find George, and start her own investigation business -- all while toting around an infant.
Orgain does a good job balancing the motherhood aspect of the story with the murder mystery, and her writing style pulled me in from the first page. Although my daughter is long past the infant stage, I remember what it was like to be a new mother working on zero sleep and wondering why there weren't enough hours in the day to take care of the baby AND take a shower and do the dishes. I liked Kate and thought her initial worries, perceived failures, and fumblings were very realistic, though how she found time during the first six weeks of her daughter's life to seek out a killer is beyond me. I had to admire her ambition and determination.
Bundle of Trouble is a fun book that I liked but didn't love. I wasn't really pulled in by the murder mystery because I didn't feel like I had a chance to get to know any of the victims and really care about their stories. As all the various characters and possible suspects are introduced, I didn't really get a good sense that any of them could have been the murderer. Maybe I just didn't pick up on the clues or maybe there really weren't enough clues for me to guess at the murderer, but either way, I was glad that I didn't have it all figured out five chapters before Kate. I found Kate entertaining in a bumbling sort of way, and I enjoyed the interactions between her and her husband. Overall, I wasn't disappointed, given that it was Kate's first "case," and I'm assuming they'll be some growth as the series progresses. I look forward to reading the second book in the series, Motherhood Is Murder, at some point.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Bundle of Trouble from the author for review purposes. I am an Amazon affiliate.
© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.