May 19, 2016

Lie in Plain Sight - Maggie Barbieri

Minotaur Books, March 15, 2016.

Two Stars

Lie in Plain Sight is the third in a series of books about bakery owner Maeve Conlon, who finds herself at the centre of every crime that takes place in her small town. She acts as an amateur sleuth in these cases, but they also all involve her personally – it seems like too many dramatic incidents to happen to one woman. It would probably be better to read these books in order, otherwise there are some parts of Maeve’s back story that are missing; however, it can be read on its own as a surface-level crime novel.

When Maeve needs help at her bakery, she hires the mother of another student at her daughter’s school. The new employee is down on her luck and desperately needs work, but there is something suspicious and really unlikeable about her as well. Soon after she starts work, the employee’s daughter Taylor gets sick at school. The school calls the bakery, and Maeve gives the girl permission to go home – but she never arrives. Now the mother and much of the community blames Maeve for the girl’s disappearance, even though Taylor is eighteen and weeks away from graduation – more than capable of making her way home in the middle of the day.

Conveniently, Maeve is dating a local cop, so she uses what little information she hears from him about Taylor’s disappearance to launch her own investigation. Maeve’s crime-fighting initiative seems to come out of nowhere, although apparently it happened before in her previous novels. During her search, many local characters become suspects, but none are all that believable. Really, that was my problem with the entire novel – none of it seemed very likely, and the whole scenario was too far from reality.

Maeve is a completely unlikeable character, which is fine – but I just couldn’t even identify with or understand her motivations, which made it hard to become immersed in the story. There is no explanation of why she thinks she can act as an amateur detective, and no plausible reason for why she gets away with her vigilantism, especially with her police officer boyfriend hanging around – apparently, he isn’t very observant. The story started out with an appealing and provocative mystery, but it didn’t really follow through. Perhaps it would help to read the first two books in order to identify with Maeve, but this novel just didn’t work for me.

I received this novel from Minotaur Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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