Auntie M adores the author photo Jessica Dee Rohm has on the back cover of Sugar Tower. Mouth wide open, face stretched in a huge grin, she looks like someone shrieking with laughter.
That’s why Auntie M wasn’t the least bit surprised when Rohm deftly inserted a series of silly puns in her murder mystery. Her Manhattan-based mystery is a treat, and was a quarter-finalist for the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year.
Anabel Sugarman’s body is found floating in the pool of the Sugar Tower, the recently completed exclusive condominium built by Anabel’s husband of five years, tycoon Barry Sugarman . Rohm does a great job of setting up her character’s and of showing us Anabel through their eyes, including her British mum, her sister, and the condo’s staff. Despite doormen and the concierge to guard them, Sugar Tower’s wealthy residents reveal their ideas and opinions about the dead woman, too. Seems Miss Anabel flew high in many ways, and knew how to rub people the wrong way as easily as she bought a new pair of Manolo’s. She was also a swimmer who’d always had dreams she would die in a pool.
But who made her dreams come true? That’s the job real estate reporter Marchesa Jesus Piazza has in front of her. Known as “Mach” because she could sound like a sonic boom, Rohm sets up her protagonist as a feminist who is questioning her choices. Complete with a Jack Russell terrier named Kitty, Mach has a good friend in her boss, who just also happens to be her former lover. That history will come into play as she convinces him to let her investigate Anabel’s death, not knowing the jeopardy she will find.
Rohm’s characters don’t often realize they are amusing, so you are surprised at the depths she wrings out of them. As the novel works to its whirlwind conclusion, you’ll be taken along for a ride as Mach uncovers what love and money can accomplish and cause.
Let’s hope Rohm decides to let Mach keep on investigating.