Monday, June 25, 2018

The In-Laws by G. X. Chen Just Out!

Spotlighting the beautiful artistry of the the author...
Ann blushed. Seth had come to the Christmas party because Betty's fiance', Peter Shi, was on call that night. A man in his late thirties, Seth had reddish-brown hair and a mildly freckled face. He was tall, athletic, and fit. Clad in a camel-hair sports jacket and a pair of dark green corduroy pants, he took Ann's hand when offered and gave it a good shake.
"Glad you could come," Ann had said conversationally because she knew Betty's brother was a doctor just like Peter. She was dressed modestly in a red sweater and a pair of blue jeans. Her black hair was cut at shoulder-length, and her eyes were smiling.
"As a psychiatrist, I can control my schedule better than Peter," Seth offered with a smile.
As if on cue, Betty had quickly excused herself and left Ann and Seth standing in the line for drinks. She had always wanted to introduce her older brother to her best friend at work, but Ann wouldn't hear it. She insisted that she would rather meet someone by choice than be fixed up by a friend. Knowing Ann would be a perfect match for Seth, who was also single, Betty had persuaded him to come to the party as soon as she knew Peter wouldn't be available.
"I've been wondering," Seth said amiably while looking at Ann with a pair of dark blue eyes, "what's the preferred method to employ when analyzing a murder case? Have you ever used the tools of psychology?"
Ann was a bit taken aback because she didn't expect Seth would know her endeavors outside the lab.
"My sister told me that you're an amateur detective," he added apologetically when he saw Ann's expression. In reality, Betty had been so taken by Ann that she had been gushing about how smart Ann was in front of her brother for quite some time.
"I'm not sure if we have a method," Ann replies honestly. "You see, my partner's a chemist, and I'm a biologist. The only thing we know and do well is gathering the evidence, which is one of the most important elements of solving a murder case."
"Of course," he concurred. "Gathering evidence and finding out the motive."
"Yes," Ann said, "But we often have a hard time finding things that can be admitted in court, even after we've figured out the motive. It's very frustrating because the outcome often hinges on the evidence. Without iron-clad evidence criminals can walk free."
...The next day, Seth called. After a few dates, Ann warmed to him, cautiously if not reluctantly at first, but his willingness to listen, his ability to hold an intelligent conversation and his easygoing manner soon won her over. It didn't hurt that he always tried to make her laugh. But when Jane asked if they had become an item, she denied it steadfastly...

The In-Laws:
Back Bay Investigations

By G. X. Chen

I've had the wonderful opportunity to read this series right from the beginning! Check out my reviews for each! An Intangible Affair, Death Comes to Lake Como, The Fatal Sin of Love and The Mystery of Moutai. But this one is the first time there was even a hint of a romantic relationship for Ann Lee,  one of the amateur investigators in Back Bay Investigations! Loved this addition of personal life for this wonderful character!

One of the reasons I enjoy the series is that, usually, there is a trip to China as part of the investigation--this time, to allow Feng Chen, Ann's partner, and his wife to take their child home for the first time, but to also talk to a major witness in the case they are working on.

I figured out the murder mystery, but must quickly say that it was primarily because of the extraordinary story the author wrote about a dysfunctional family based upon a tragic back story... The drama of this latest novel is tense and really heartbreaking since only jealousy prevented a loving family... A moral to the story that is intriguing and explicitly presented with the author capturing readers' attention and holding while she step-by-step allows her characters to act it out...

In many ways, this is a psychological suspense novel that places the closeness of the mother-son against the new person in the son's life. Interestingly, Emily, the mother encourages her son, Peter, to consider dating a specific girl, Betty, and they became involved and married... 

There are options to consider why the mother and daughter-in-law didn't get along and I enjoyed exploring whether or not the son would always support his mother... Then there is a potential love interest for Emily by a next-door neighbor who, actually, finds her after she had fallen down the stairs of her home. Only thing, though, was that a note had been found at the scene...

Ann gets involved via her best friend, Betty, who is Seth's sister... And Seth seeks Ann's investigative skills to help when Betty is arrested... Frankly, although I had figured out the murder mystery almost immediately, I still loved the clues and actual actions done by the killer that Ann discovered along the way...They are interesting and readers can use their own mystery solving skills to find those clues and fit them together...

Given the small number of characters within this mystery, Chen has played up the development of each characters so well that readers easily come to know each and sympathize with their role in the family dynamic. The setting also played a part in directing the story and, if you get involved as completely as I did, you will quickly see the minor problem areas that were caused by each family member against another. I couldn't help but compare it to family life in today's world. Many have become so entrenched in their own lives that special concern for communication with family members takes secondary importance to one's own concerns...A lesson to be learned if you happen to see yourself or other family members within this novel...

Chen's diversity in her novels is another factor why her book series is popular. While maintaining a few series characters, each book takes us on another adventurous, unique, hunt to solve a murder mystery. I'm enjoying the author's creative imagination to present fresh new scenarios...Kudos and keep them coming!


G.X. Chen, author of the Back Bay Investigation mystery series and other novels, is a freelance writer and a graduate of Fudan University and University of New Mexico. She has taught literature at Fudan as well as the Shanghai Foreign Language Institute. A world traveler and an amateur photographer, she lives in the beautiful city of Boston with husband, Steve.

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