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-- Mary Helen Becker, Mystery News
Roberta Isleib has written a fully satisfying mystery. It contains the right amount of suspense and wit to keep the reader intrigued and glued to the pages. Rebecca Butterman is a lovable heroine who is interested in Detective Meigs, a married man. Her friends and family are amusing, and there is another possible love interest thrown in the mix. Add to that the church members and the possible ministerial candidates, and that makes the perfect recipe for murder. PREACHING TO THE CORPSE is a fun and exciting mystery that will take you for a ride.
-- Melissa Kammer, Fresh Fiction
From her quirky and lovable characters to the potion of deception she so masterfully conjures up, it's no doubt that her readers will be anxiously awaiting for her characters to return in her next installment.
-- Jennifer Vido, Fresh Fiction
This book has everything I love about traditional mysteries. Good, tight writing. A strong but far-from-perfect heroine. More secrets than sprinkles on Christmas cookies. A plot that flows smoothly from "What can all this possibly mean?" to "I think I know who did it" to "No, don't go there, all alone, without telling someone, this close to the end of the book!
-- Sharon Wildwind, Story Circle Book Reviews
I most appreciate the top-notch writing, meticulous plotting and a heroine who is perfectly imperfect teetering between her feminist leanings and the desire for a big lug to take care of her.
-- Diana Vickery, Cozy Library
The mystery is well laid out and easy to follow, and there are several paths readers can take to figure everything out. Preaching to the Corpse is a fun holiday mystery with a heroine who will easily win new fans and keep old fans well satisfied.
-- Jennifer Winberry, Mystery Reader
Isleib has written a fantastic amateur sleuth tale in which it seems everyone except the detective and the heroinešs sister and niece have something to conceal and thus push personal agendas to guard against revealing their secrets.
-- Harriet Klauser, Genregoroundreviews
Isleib has created in Dr. Rebecca Butterman a professional who cares and who is better at her job for her own flaws and failings.
Isleib is an accomplished and gifted writer... Her protagonist, Butterman is invested with a wide range of emotional baggage and surrounding characters that flesh out her circumstances and make the novel an interesting and enjoyable experience.
-- Carl Brookins. Read full review.
PREACHING TO THE CORPSE
By Roberta Isleib
A Berkley Prime Crime Paperback
238 pages, December 2007
Review by Carl Brookins
This book has a nice cover and the design is good. The interior design is appropriate and the type size and margins make the book comfortable to hold and read. I mention all these details because these elements of books are no longer automatic. The advent of some late-twentieth-century technology had put book production within reach of almost anyone. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
I also mention these details because, according to the cover, this is an advice column mystery. It is not. True, Dr. Rebecca Butterman, an excellent protagonist, by the way, writes an advice column, but this mystery has no connection to her column. I guess it's our current obsession with labeling, categorizing, and organizing everyone and everything.
Dr. Butterman is a church-going psychologist. This is her second outing from the experienced and sure hand of her creator. Isleib is an accomplished and gifted writer. It shows in this novel. The story takes readers behind the scenes in a small New England church which is seeking a new assistant pastor. Now in some churches such a decision is made elsewhere at a higher level of the church hierarchy. Not here. Church members are sitting as a small search committee to interview and recommend the hiring of a new assistant pastor. They'd like to get it done since the holiday season looms and the previous assistant pastor resigned rather abruptly.
Late one night, Butterman gets a call that the chair of the search committee has suddenly died among suspicions she may have had help meeting her maker. Among the possible suspects is the pastor of Shoreline Congregational Church in Guilford, Connecticut. Pastor Wesley Sandifer is acting strangely and the death of Lucy Bales has thrown things into an uproar. Butterman is pressed into service as a reluctant replacement for the dead woman. As the book progresses, the author judiciously releases information, almost always in an organic and controlled manner that will keep readers on their mystery-solving toes.
Meanwhile, Butterman has personal difficulties inside her family. Her father abandoned the family many years ago but Rebecca wants to reestablish a connection. The coming Christmas season seems an appropriate time to reach out. Her sister, however, has major objections and the occasional flare-ups over the subject imbue several scenes with familiar emotions.
Isleib, a clinical psychologist by training, handles all this with a sure and steady hand. Her protagonist, Butterman is invested with a wide range of emotional baggage and surrounding characters that flesh out her circumstances and make the novel an interesting and enjoyable experience. I recommend the book and look forward to a long acquaintance with Dr. Rebecca Butterman.