Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mystery Book Review: High Anxiety by Charlotte Hughes

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of High Anxiety by Charlotte Hughes. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

High Anxiety by Charlotte Hughes

A Kate Holly Mystery

Jove (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-515-14740-0 (0515147400)
ISBN-13: 978-0-515-14740-7 (9780515147407)
Publication Date: January 2010
List Price: $7.99

Review: Psychologist Kate Holly continues to juggle a career, her family and friends all the while dealing with a temporary receptionist who seems to have issues of her own to deal with in High Anxiety, the third mystery in this series by Charlotte Hughes.

After Kate's best friend and regular receptionist, Mona, takes a leave of absence to recover from a sudden outbreak of hives, her mother steps in to fill the void. But it soon becomes clear that families that stay together don't work together, so Kate contacts a temp agency for a replacement. Abigail Davis is about the same age as Kate, is personable, and most importantly, agrees not to offer advice to Kate's patients behind her back, something Kate's mother was keen on doing. still, there's something a bit peculiar about Abigail, which becomes more apparent as she takes on a new appearance and becomes more involved in Kate's personal life.

High Anxiety is a pleasant mystery, with a minimum of violence that will appeal to readers who prefer their cozies more gentle than harsh. But it lacks the light, humorous touch that the premise seems to imply. The book opens with, "My name is Kate Holly. I'm a clinical psychologist. My patients think I'm normal. If I've told them once, I've told them a thousand times: There is no such thing as normal." The author surrounds Kate with an eclectic cast of characters, certainly not an average bunch but not so quirky to be outlandish either. Most are rather compelling, and in some ways more interesting (in a clinical psychological way) than Kate herself. Still, little humor is extracted from them or the situations in which they find themselves ... and a little humor would have gone a long way towards making the predictably plotted story a lot more enjoyable.

Special thanks to Penguin Group for providing an ARC of High Anxiety for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): After nursing her hunky firefighter ex-husband Jay Rush back to health, Kate Holly is ready for a little fun, only to get stuck with an anger management group that turns dangerous when a gun-toting granny loses her temper. Kate’s hopes for some frisky business are further put on hold when a monster forest fire erupts several hours south of Atlanta, drawing firefighters by the droves, including Jay.

Kate’s professional life isn’t faring any better. Her patients seem to be getting kookier, her junk-dealing mother and aunt more outrageous, and her secretary is convinced her peculiar rash is something akin to leprosy! Kate is forced to hire oddball temp employee Abigail Davis who becomes fixated with her. If Kate thinks it strange when Abigail’s “makeover” leaves them looking frighteningly identical, she soon has to wonder just how far the troubled young woman will go to in order to win Kate’s affection.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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