Roxy Abruzzo lives and works in Pittsburgh where she runs an architectural salvage business. Her shady uncle Carmine (mostly) leaves her alone while he tends to the family’s less than legal dealings. Which is fine because Roxy has enough on her plate with her business and raising her seventeen-year-old daughter. Problems arise when Roxy absconds with a statue that isn’t actually hers and winds up in the middle of a murder investigation to boot in Our Lady of Immaculate Deception (2010) by Nancy Martin.
I was so excited when I first heard about this novel. My mom and I had started reading Martin’s Blackbird Sister mysteries together and we both really enjoyed them. The combination of down-on-their-luck blue bloods with madcap humor, a fun mystery, and some romance now and then was a real winner. It was, therefore, a sad day when I realized Murder Melts in Your Mouth might very well be the last of the Blackbird mysteries.
Hearing about Our Lady of Immaculate Deception helped ease the blow because the main character of this new series would be none other than Roxy Abruzzo, half-sister of Michael Abruzzo–love interest to Nora Blackbird and a crucial character in the Blackbird Sister series. Surely this was a good sign! Martin wanted to move on, but I felt certain Michael, and maybe even a Blackbird or two would show up in the story. Since Roxy lives in Pittsburgh and the Blackbirds call Philadelphia home it wasn’t entirely out of the question.
Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.
My mom was immediately turned off by the title and, in the end, her first impression was right. All of the polish Martin used so well in her previous mystery series is gone. Roxy is a brash, not entirely likable character. As my mother put it, she winds up sleeping with every man in sight, her seventeen-year-old daughter is pregnant, and she’s basically a thief. In other words, Roxy has little in the way of redeeming qualities. And, I don’t know about you, but what’s the point of a book without a character you can actually like?
Worse still to me is the fact that Martin makes no references to her previous characters. If a book is going to tie in with the setting of a previous series, it should go all the way. It shouldn’t tease faithful fans with what sounds like a connection only to entice them to read the book and finally leave them hanging. Poor form all around. Hopefully Martin has more Blackbird Mysteries up her sleeve.