In book four of the Amanda Pepper series we get to know Bea, Mandy's mom a bit more, but not for a good reason. Mandy agrees to accompany her mother to a birthday dinner for soap opera star Lyle Zacharias. He is a man once related by marriage, but who Amanda and her sister Beth cannot remember ever meeting. With a creepily worded invitation Mandy should have known it would not end well. The evening goes from bad to deadly when the hosting birthday boy dies in the middle of dinner. Chaos reigns for a while, then the suspects are tallied. Among the number are Bea, the ex-wife, the widow, the widow's lover, the hotel owners, Lyle's cast from the soap and still even more. The man held to the motto of keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer.
As always Gillian Roberts has given us a mystery that is spectacular. I have fallen in love with Amanda Pepper's character and her Yankee way of getting things done. I have also decided there is more to her mother than a woman who is set on marrying her daughter off. Take a look at With Friends Like These and you will be hooked on the entire series. Each book is a standalone and does not require the reading of the previous ones. But because they are so well done and filled with humor and such plot twists you will be picking up the previous books just for the sheer joy to be had in reading them. I look forward to How I Spent My Summer Vacation and hope that one day we might actually learn what the C K stands for in Mackenzie's name, then again maybe not. We can, like Mandy, keep using descriptive names. In each book his name could change to suit the story. This is the time to label him Caring Kind Mackenzie.
Well-known Broadway playwright and TV producer Lyle Zacharias is throwing himself a lavish birthday party in his hometown of Philadelphia. Guests include his current wife, ex-wives, friends, former partners—not to mention Amanda Pepper and her own irrepressible mother, Bea. Yet when Lyle drops dead in the middle of a speech, it appears the likely perpetrator is none other than Bea, whose gift was fifty delicious, but apparently poisoned, tarts!
It's up to Amanda to clear her mother's name and find the real murderer…before he or she strikes again! But Amanda herself may be the next target! Who says teaching isn't exciting? With any more excitement, Amanda will have to retire before she hits thirty-one…if she lives that long!