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Staged to Death by Karen Rose Smith

Staged to Death” is the first in what looks to be an entertaining “Caprice DeLuca Mystery” series by Karen Rose Smith.  This book was published in December 2013.

Caprice DeLuca is a home stager in a town that is supposed to be near York, PA called Kismet.  Kismet apparently has a wealth of upscale homes that need staging in order to sell at a higher price. The person who gets called in on these types of jobs in Kismet and nearby York is Caprice DeLuca, a 30-something home stager.  Caprice themes her stagings to match the decor appropriate to the home and the interests of likely buyers.  What she gets when she holds  an open house in the newly staged mansion of Roz and Ted Winslow is one owner who is found slain in his antique sword room and the other owner, Caprice’s friend, Roz, who is accused of the crime.  Caprice takes on the task, to the chagrin of the investigating police detective, of proving that Roz did not murder her husband.

This book is part mystery and part romance.  Karen Rose Smith is an experienced romance writer, and the plot includes a considerable amount of back-and-forth between Caprice and two potential love interests, an attractive but aloof attorney who is Caprice’s brother’s partner, Grant, and an even more handsome emergency care doctor, Seth, who immediately fires up the mutual sexual attraction in Caprice.  There are also a lot of cute cats and dogs in the book to pique the interest of animal lovers as Caprice is a well-known animal rescuer in the town.

Staged to Death” will find a strong fan base among cosy mystery lovers, and especially among those who are also fans of Leslie Meier.

Reviewed with a provided copy.

Liz Nichols

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Love Gone Mad by Mark Rubinstein

Love Gone Mad” is the second psychological thriller by Mark Rubinstein, who is or has been an attending psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a medical faculty member at Cornell University.  He knows psychosis, and the mad man in this dramatic story, Conrad Wilson, seems like a chilling example right out of the good doctor’s case files.  Wilson is the archetype for the psychotically jealous husband like so many who are responsible for spousal abuse and murder in this country.  The book accurately documents the ineffectiveness of our legal system when it comes to protecting spouses, children and the people who care for them in the face of an irrationally abusive spouse or ex-spouse.

I appreciate the way Rubinstein has used his knowledge to tell a tale that is too often played out in real life. The story is about a budding romance between a surgeon, Dr. Adrian Douglas and a nurse, Megan Haggarty, who meet and fall in love at a small hospital in Eastport, Connecticut.  Both were at Yale at the same time, but never met there.  Megan’s former husband, Conrad Wilson, suddenly shows up in Eastport after several years in Colorado, and Wilson is not about to believe his former wife never had an affair with Dr. Douglas when they were at Yale.  In fact, he believes Douglas fathered his child, Marlee, and it causes Wilson to reject the child as less then worthless.  Wilson claims he can smell the doctor on the child.  Strange threats start coming to Megan, Adrian, and family members around Megan that the police cannot quite pin on Wilson until the threats escalate almost to the point of murder.

Love Gone Mad” is a plausible story, and a very frightening one that many people will relate to.  What I don’t care for about the book is the prose.  It seems stilted and overly dramatic to me.  The speech seems unnatural to me also.  The book is part romance about the loving relationship between the doctor and the nurse and circumstances surrounding Marlee’s birth.  It is written more in the style of a romance than a mystery.  I also found the plot quite predictable.  Nothing that happens actually surprised me.  Even the turn of events surrounding Marlee’s birth is set up for predictable results well in advance.

Love Gone Mad” is a story many will relate to, but it could have been better written.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols


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