by Anne B. Ross; Viking, 2011; 320 pages; $25.95
Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle is the 12th story in a series starring Miss Julia. She is like Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote — she just cannot seem to get away from finding murder victims. Some have compared Miss Julia to Agatha Christy’s Miss Marple, and they would be right.
In this story, Miss Julia has made a promise to her husband not to get involve with these things. Add a little touch of Murphy’s Law, and she has no choice — it chooses her.
Author Ann Ross made the note to her readers that, “I tried to make each book stand alone, so that a reader could start with any one of them.” And the book itself was slightly fun to read. The only problem was that it seemed other busy happenings got in the way of the murder being solved. It gets crammed into the last couple of chapters.
All in all, it is a hectic read, as the character’s problems overwhelm this book. Unless you have a history with Miss Julia, a new reader would be at a loss, regardless of Ross’s efforts to the contrary. It had the feel of a jigsaw puzzle, with the reader trying to put together relationships. There is some hilarity and light-hearted moments to be enjoyed, but they were few and far between. Skipping pages may be an option since the murder is put on hold after the initial body is found and does not rise again until later.
But Ross does have her ever-faithful readers who love Miss Julia and her shenanigans. For a new reader who likes light mysteries, the beginning of the series would be a good place to start. Then by the 12th, you would have caught up on all the relationships. Until then, they will remain the big mystery with the murder taking second place. Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle is thankfully a speedy read with speedy characters. Everything in the novel is written in warp speed. So, if you are a follower of Ann Ross, you will enjoy this novel. If you have never read any of her books, I suggest, once again, starting fresh from the opening book of the Miss Julie series.
Charlene Harris is a freelance writer in Anniston.