Helen Hath No Fury by Gillian Roberts

HELEN
Helen Hath No Fury by Gillian Roberts
An Amanda Pepper Mystery
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (149 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

In the stately nineteenth-century homes on Philadelphia’s Delancey Street, the wilder passions scarcely ruffle the peace. Murder is unthinkable, particularly a murder involving an upscale book discussion group, of which schoolteacher Amanda Pepper is a devoted member. Nevertheless, on the day after a heated discussion of a fictional heroine’s suicide, book group member Helen Coulter falls to her death from her roof garden. Helen’s death is declared a suicide but Amanda is convinced otherwise. Why is this admirable woman dead? And if she was killed, who performed the heinous act? Amanda’s investigations will draw her into a zone of great danger, where Helen Coulter’s ice-hearted killer is once more ready to strike. . . .

Amanda Pepper really enjoys her book club. She is a high school English teacher, trying to instill a love of literature into the minds of the students at Philly Prep, who are frequently bored. Therefore, to be able have a book club where she can talk about books with others who feel passionately about them is a real treat. Gillian Roberts uses the book club almost like another character. Opening the novel at a book club meeting discussing Kate Chopin’s The Awakening allows Roberts to introduce nearly all the characters quickly and effectively, fleshing them out simply by showing how they discuss the novel. As Amanda notes: “Good books are like Rorschach tests. What each person finds on the page depends on what she’s brought along with her. I know very little about the daily lives of these women. I see most only once a month, but I feel as if I know more about their values and concerns, more of what matters to them and who they are, than I do about many of my longtime friends. All of that is via the books we read, the ideas that fill our monthly meetings.” It is this book club meeting that convinces Amanda that her friend Helen did not commit suicide.

Helen Hath No Fury is the tenth Amanda Pepper Mystery. I am one of those readers who loves to find a series that is well-written with characters I care about and plots that are fast paced and exciting. I have now read two novels in this series, and I can’t wait to read them all. Amanda Pepper is bright and witty. She obviously cares deeply for her students, and based on the lesson plans she shares in these novels, she is an excellent teacher. In addition, she is a seeker of truth and has the ability to piece together puzzles in order to find the answers to baffling cases. She lives with C.K. Mackenzie, a homicide detective, and a cat, Macavity. She has a mother who is always pushing her to get married. These characters are loveable, and to have a series where the reader gets to know them better each time is a real delight. That being said, the novels also stand alone perfectly. No prior knowledge is assumed. No prior cases are invoked.

In addition to memorable well-developed characters, there is a terrific mystery with many twists and turns. There is even a side story about a student, a mystery in its own right, which ends up giving Amanda the clues she needs to solve Helen’s murder. The pacing is excellent and the pages just turn themselves. And I love the play on words in the title. It sets the tone for the novel as a whole, and also demonstrates the value of words in Amanda’s life.

I can highly recommend Helen Hath No Fury to any lovers of the cozy mystery, written to the high standards of a classic mystery where the suspense turns on the characters and the plot. This is a novel, and indeed a series not to be missed.

Speak Your Mind

*