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Blues in the Night    by Rochelle Krich order for
Blues in the Night
by Rochell Krich
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2002 (2002)
Hardcover, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Rochelle Krich is the well-regarded author of many mysteries, both her series featuring Los Angeles policewoman Jessie Drake and several nicely written standalones. In Blues in the Night she introduces another protagonist for what we hope will be a new series. Molly Blume is a free-lance crime writer who has written several true crime novels and pays the bills by reporting crime statistics for a LA tabloid. As with all the main characters in Krich's books she is Jewish and the religious aspects of her life add an extra dimension to the story. Molly is a likeable young woman living in the Orthodox Jewish community of LA.

For readers who are not Jewish it is fascinating to see how Molly's religious observances are integrated into her life. Many mystery readers will be familiar with the wonderful Faye Kellerman stories starring Rina Lazarus and Pete Decker. While Molly is a thoroughly modern single, Rina is a more traditional conservative Orthodox married woman, and the contrast in the characters is quite interesting.

Krich often enriches her books by focussing on specific themes. These have included stolen Holocaust art and fertility clinics. As the title might indicate, Blues in the Night is about post-partum depression or 'baby blues'. The victim is Lenore Saunders, who was injured in a hit and run accident and then dies in the hospital after slitting her wrists. A year earlier Lenore was convicted of manslaughter in the shaking death of her infant son and escaped a more serious legal penalty by claiming post-partum depression. So when she dies in the hospital, it initially looks like another suicide attempt, this time successful.

But is it really? Molly visits her in the hospital before her death and starts to wonder. Then Lenore leaves her a partial phone message the night of her death. As Molly looks into the circumstances of Lenore's life, including her troubled relationships with her mother and her divorced husband, she is convinced that it is murder. As always, Krich creates her main character with a full personal life and provides well-developed secondary characters.

The divorced Molly has a loving and supportive family who would like her to re-marry. A prime candidate is the newly ordained Rabbi Zack Abrams, an old high school boyfriend recently returned to LA. As expected their romance does not develop smoothly and this provides an interesting counterpoint to the mystery. Krich writes very well and the narrative pulls the reader right into the story. Her books are always a treat and fortunately she is a prolific writer who publishes regularly.

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