Our Lady of Immaculate Deception Review
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The architectural salvage business just got a big boost—and not a minute too soon. After catching her womanizing playboy husband, Julius, with another woman one too many times, Monica Hyde set fire to the Hyde family estate. With just hours to go before the estate’s demolition, Roxy Abruzzo arrives to clear out the last of the goods, which she’ll later sell to wealthy homebuilders throughout Pittsburgh (hopefully in time to pay her daughter’s tuition). And when she finds a vine-covered ancient statue alone in the yard, Roxy decides to take one last item that wasn’t on her approved list.

Just hours after leaving the Hyde mansion, Roxy hears that Julius Hyde has been murdered. The police begin questioning everyone who was there that night—and, as the grandniece of one of the city’s Mafia boss, Roxy’s high on their suspect list. But with an ex back in town, a teenage daughter in trouble, and a bunch of people looking for the statue, the extra police attention is only the beginning of her problems.

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception is the first in author Nancy Martin’s new series. The rest of the books in the series probably won’t wind up on my bookshelf, though—because I had a hard enough time making it through the first installment.

Tough and tomboyish—almost like Pittsburgh’s answer to Stephanie Plum—Roxy Abruzzo is, nevertheless, a confusing collection of random traits and interests. In addition to reselling architectural elements that she hauls out of Pittsburgh homes, she also flips houses from time to time and sings backup on the weekends. And she has a dubious connection to her uncle Carmine, who’s interested in bringing her on the payroll.

Still, despite her rough job(s) and her less-than-girly uniform of dirty jeans and old boots, Roxy…well…let’s just say that she sleeps around. A lot. With anyone (and everyone). And her reasoning? She sleeps around for her teenage daughter, Sage—because she never wanted Sage to experience the anxiety of watching her mother date (which is apparently more traumatic than having a mother with a questionable reputation). And, really, it doesn’t seem like Sage would notice all that much—since she lives with Roxy’s aunt, Loretta, while Roxy lives…wherever.

Of course, there are deeper reasons for Roxy’s behavior—all of which get so tangled into the story that you might just forget that there’s a mystery to be solved. While Martin goes into great detail about her main character and her numerous eccentricities, however, the rest of the characters (and the story itself) are barely explored. It may be hard to like Roxy, but it’s hard just to get a grasp on the other characters—from menopausal lawyer Loretta to drug-addicted-soldier-turned-chef Patrick Flynn. None of the minor characters seem to make much sense. In fact, it sometimes seems as if Martin created her characters by pulling traits at random out of a hat.

Thanks to its frustrating main character and its undeveloped story, Our Lady of Immaculate Deception is more than just a shaky start to a new series—it’s a complete turn-off. With so many enjoyably quirky mystery series available at your neighborhood bookstore, there’s simply no need to suffer through this one.

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