Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Friday, July 16, 2010

As Husbands Go, by Susan Isaacs (hardcover, $25)

Summer = iced tea + Susan Isaacs' latest book. Ahhh…

Isaacs has created an irresistible character. Susie B Anthony Rabinowitz Gersten is a funny, warm, upwardly mobile wife, mother, and small business owner with an eagle-eye for fashion. Her safe and satisfying Long Island world disintegrates when her husband is found murdered in the apartment of a prostitute ("I'm not a prostitute, I'm an 'escort.'").

Susie struggles with four-year-old triplets, twin Norwegian au pairs, cold fish in-laws, socially dysfunctional parents, and a recently discovered grandmother whose picture appears in the dictionary next to the word "eccentric." And now her husband, Jonah, whose love she never doubted, apparently had a nasty secret world. How was that possible?

That quest to find out how it was possible is what drives this novel. Susie is convinced, evidence to the contrary, that her husband was not seeing a prostitute for the obvious reason. Then she's convinced that the prostitute did not kill her husband. Driven by "ethics," a heretofore under-experienced concept, to see her convictions through to a conclusion, she enlists the help of her colorful grandmother (whose appearance makes the price of the book worth every penny) and "Fat Boy," her business partner's brilliant husband.

It would be a sadder, less colorful world if Susan Isaacs were not writing. She gives her readers flash but with substance, a pretty picture with a crack running through it (and to stretch this a little further: the picture is hung askew).

Although the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying, and I really thought Susie was much too nice to her in-laws, there were 327 pages of interesting characters and lively writing.

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