Compliments of a Friend Review
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Crafting a well-written mystery is no small task. Setting the stage, developing memorable characters, and tying it all up in a neat, clever package takes both hard work and talent. Doing it all in just 44 pages poses even more of a challenge. But author Susan Isaacs passes the test with her short mystery, Compliments of a Friend.

The story follows Long Island history professor Judith Singer on the quest to find a killer. Rich and fabulous employment agency owner Vanessa Giddings is trying on shoes at Bloomingdale’s when she suddenly collapses and dies. The police quickly rule that her death was a suicide—an intentional overdose of Xanax. But Judith isn’t convinced. Vanessa may have been dealing with both a recent divorce and a major business set-back, but she was strong and self-assured and resilient. Not only that, but Judith knows that no woman would commit suicide while shopping for shoes—so she starts digging through the local dirt for clues to what really killed her neighbor.

In just 44 short pages, Isaacs manages to do what many authors can’t even do in 300 pages: she sets up an interesting story, develops a few strong personalities, and she pulls it all together in a way that’s both interesting and entertaining.

Vanessa’s story is an intriguing one—a story of wealth and power, of love and heartbreak. Since she’s a public figure, everyone seems to have an opinion of her—and everyone seems to have a little bit of gossip that they’re all too eager to share. And that gives Judith plenty of dirt to dig.

Meanwhile, Judith herself makes a strong sleuth. Isaacs has written about her before, so her regular readers will already know the smart, witty character. But even if you haven’t read Isaacs’s earlier Judith Singer novels, you’ll have no problem getting to know her. Her friends, too, add some personality to the story—especially journalist and transplanted Southerner Nancy Miller, who’s always happy to offer her opinion.

The weakest part of this short e-book, then, is its conclusion. Though Isaacs wraps everything up in a relatively neat package, it feels rather sudden and abrupt. The pieces come together quickly, in what feels more like an afterword than a complete conclusion—and it could have benefited from just five or so more pages to help readers ease out of the story.

Still, in just a few pages, Isaacs tells a fun-filled story of murder, mystery, and stylish shoes. So if you’re looking for a short but smart read by a skilled mystery writer, add this entertaining short e-book to your queue.

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