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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Deep End: The Country Club Murders Mystery By Julie Mulhern

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Who would have thought that swimming into the body of her estranged husband's bondage mistress would be the spark that would inspire Ellison Russell to finally take charge of her life and her future?

In 1974 Kansas City, Missouri, Ellison is married to a lout jealous of her successful career who forces her into submitting to his domination fantasies. Ellison isn’t divorcing Henry so she can keep her daughter from living in a broken home—and to escape the suffocating criticism of her own condescending mother. Madeline Harper’s murder reveals that Henry was just one among the many country-club husbands she had seduced.

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Henry goes AWOL, and Ellison is certain that he’s not a murderer. Despite the warnings of the suspicious (but surprisingly sympathetic) Detective Jones, Ellison decides to look into Madeline's rather disturbing life and discover if it’s a jilted lover, a vengeful wife, or even a socially blackmailed victim who killed her.

Image source: Henery Press

The author doesn't shy away from the graphic details of S&M clubs in this début mystery series, but the focus truly falls on Ellison's growth and her relationships with her family and friends. Mulhern crafts refreshing characters defying 1970s stereotypes and clichés. Grace is not presented as a typical selfish teenaged daughter (she’s Ellison's strongest advocate and actually encourages her mother to divorce), while Ellison's father is indulgent and loving–but never sees his daughter as an independent and strong woman.

The mystery itself is extremely complex, but what truly stands out is the development of Ellison as a realistic and likable character. There’s humor and wit along with a protagonist coming into her own as a compelling, funny, and very intelligent woman.

To enter to win a copy of The Deep End, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Deep,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 7, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).