A review of The Cluttered Corpse by Mary Jane Maffini – coming soon in e-book

Shades of Marie Kondo…hmmm…

I remember reading a couple of the books in this series back in “real paper book” days, shortly after they came out, and I have pleasant, if somewhat vague, memories of them.  So I was pleased to receive an advance review copy of the new e-book edition of The Cluttered Corpse, which features protagonist Charlotte Adams as a “Marie Kondo” – even before the real Marie Kondo hit it big in the early 2010s.   And overall, with a couple of minor issues, I enjoyed this book, which is the second in the series. 

First, the good!   Author Mary Jane Maffini has had a great idea for a protagonist in a mystery series:  a professional organizer is, by necessity, going to be traipsing in and out of clients’ homes and getting a look at their stuff – and potentially their secrets.   An organizer also needs to be logical, which can help with figuring out details of a case, and seems to need to be as much a psychologist as an actual cleaner-upper, which can help with motives.   So it was fun to watch Charlotte as she applied her skills and resources to figuring out how a neighborhood lout came to be found dead in her newest client’s house.   And even more puzzling, why was that client insisting vociferously that she herself was guilty? 

On the down side, I struggled a bit with some of the characters in the book, including Charlotte’s.    With a career that could probably get her involved with a murder in many ways, having her push (even bully) her way into her newest client’s life on only a few minutes acquaintance seemed a little off to me.   And I also had trouble with her relationship with her former best friend and current Detective Sergeant, Pepper Monahan.   Although we all have that friend who married someone the rest of us can’t stand, it still didn’t work for me.   I may have missed some back story from the first book in the series that would help, but as it was, I was just frustrated with that relationship.   

OTOH, the clean-up tips were priceless and worth a few chuckles, and I really appreciated Charlotte’s attention to the unstated needs of her clients, beyond just getting cleaned up and organized.  I’ve haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I sort of have the feeling that if I read all five books in Maffini’s series, I might not need to!

All-in-all, The Cluttered Corpse was a fun book, and I’ll keep an eye out for more titles in the series to become available in e-book.   But I did knock it down a couple of stars for my struggles with the characters, and I hope they get more a little more believable in later titles.  Please keep in mind that since I’m not super generous with stars, this is still a “read” recommendation, though. And my thanks to Beyond the Page Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy!

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