Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: Bundle of Trouble by Diana Orgain

"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.


Serena said...

Sounds like an interesting book, but amateur detectives are not usually my thing

Anonymous said...

That's how I felt about this book-- I liked it, but didn't love it, but still looked forward to the next book. I'm happy to say that there was significant growth in the second book, and it was an even more enjoyable read.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the cozy kind of mystery that I enjoy once in a while. Fun, but fairly light. I do wonder how she manages to be a detective, albeit amateur, and new mom without putting the baby in danger.

bermudaonion said...

Sorry this was somewhat disappointing for you. It might be fun at the beach this summer.

Aarti said...

I read this one and also felt no very strong feelings about it. I didn't accept the offer to read and review the second one, I think because I was too sensitive about one line in this book about how working women must value their jobs over everything else, and thus don't have family or children and can't understand the pull of those commitments. I admit I was pretty offended by that!

Julie P. said...

I'm sorry you didn't love this one. I think it's a cute series. I just posted on the second book today.

Cheryl said...

It sounds like kind of a confusing book.

Suko said...

Anna, thanks for your honest review.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've seen this author/series around (yes Julie had a post on book number 2 today). So this qualifies as cozy I guess, which has a time and place I think, when you are in the right mood. Generally though, I like my murder mysteries dark and disturbing!

fredamans said...

This is new to me also. I am adding to my huge list, only because i think it would be something I could like.
I know you didn't.

Great review!

Sullivan McPig said...

Sounds like an enjoyable book.

Blodeuedd said...

I don't have a problem with like but not love books, but this one..since I am not a fan of mysteries in general. So no, but will tell a friend about it

Staci said...

Not sure if this one will go on my cozy mystery list but it was nice to read your thoughts on this one.

Steph said...

This does sound like a fun light read, though the mystery sounds unsatisfying.

Bookfool said...

I've got this one on my TBRs, so I just skipped right over and read the "liked but didn't love" sentence. Darn it. I was hoping you'd love it. I liked but didn't love the first book, but I was hoping this one would be an improvement. Mysteries are something I only occasionally read -- very, very rarely, these days.

Literary Feline said...

I came across a copy of this book a couple of months ago and added it to my TBR pile. It sounds fun, but I can't say I'm surprised by your comments. I look forward to reading this one.

Anna said...

Serena: I don't usually read detective books, and this was my first amateur detective book, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

blog: Good to know. I'll have to give it a try then.

carolsnotebook: I probably should have discussed that in my review. She leaves the baby home sometimes, but there are a couple of scenes that made me wonder whether any mom of a newborn really would bring their child along. Then again, it's fiction after all.

bermudaonion: I think it would be a great light beach read.

Aarti: I wish I'd thought to include my thoughts on that in my review! I enjoyed our e-mail discussion on these points, and I agree with you totally.

Julie: I'm glad to hear you're enjoying them.

Cheryl: I didn't find it confusing, though there really was a lot going on. I'm sorry if my description was confusing.

Suko: My pleasure!

Sandy: I'm with you in liking the dark and disturbing books, though I wonder what that says about me?

fredamans: I hope you enjoy it. I didn't dislike the book, though; I just didn't love it.

Sullivan McPig: It was enjoyable enough. ;)

Blodeuedd: Isn't it great how blogs not only add to your TBR piles but to your friend's as well? LOL

Staci: Thanks!

Steph: Watching Kate fumble her way through the PI business was the most entertaining part for me!

Bookfool: I haven't read the second one, but it seems as though we felt the same way about this one. I don't think cozy mysteries are my thing, but I think I should read a couple more before making up my mind for good.

Literary Feline: I'm looking forward to your thoughts on it.