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Multiple Listing (Sydney Teaque Mysteries)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Anne Underwood Grant

In addition to keeping her low-power advertising agency afloat, Sydney Teague copes with sole responsibility for two incredibly well-adjusted teenagers, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings she dare not miss, and an old beau?handily, a policeman?chasing her, … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Anne Underwood Grant
Publisher: Dell
1 review about Multiple Listing (Sydney Teaque Mysteries)

Grant's portrait of Charlotte on target

  • Sep 3, 2000
Rating:
+5
Writers have a long tradition of leaving their mark on the landscapes of cities they set their stories in, so that readers can imagine the London of Sherlock Holmes, the New York City of Laurence Block. In Anne Underwood Grant's debut mystery, "Multiple Listing," the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, comes in for much the same treatment, don't expect the chamber of commerce to embrace this book with much fervor. The city is treated as well as the book's murder victims.

"Multiple Listing" -- a dull title that describes a service in which a home for sale can be shown by many real estate agents -- attempts to merge the cozy mystery with the serial killer genre with mixed results. Sydney Teague is a divorced mom with two kids, a small ad agency business and a drinking problem that has been under control for more than eleven years. Her comfortable existence is disrupted with a friend of hers is found brutally raped and murdered. When Sydney discovers that the murder may be connected with a series of thefts at homes that have been put up for sale through the Multiple Listing service, Sydney finds herself involved again with a homicide detective she had dated several years ago.

"Multiple Listing" is packed with attitude and character. Genre writers tend to soft-pedal their leading character, fearful of offending or putting off readers. Scarred by alcolholism and a bad marriage, Sydney has the strength of character that means she takes no nonsense, from her co-workers, her business competitors, even her detective friend. Call it the Kay Scarpetta Effect (after Patricia Cornwell's character), but this is obviously a woman born to lead. One can easily imagine her rushing off to investigate a murder involving her friends.

Nor does Grant dilute Sydney's distate for Charlotte, a city the author lived in for a decade. In the first few pages alone, Sydney is musing on a city with "lots of services but very few tangible products." "Like a newly rich southern woman eager to buy her way into social prominence. Charlotte is a New South city, full of herself with polite aggression, portending to the crown of shifting economic futures, hoping Atlanta will slip, pretending she has no past." Wap, wap, wap!

Weighing in at 325 pages, "Multiple Listing" could have used a firmer editorial hand. Several times, Sydney retells the facts in ways that more experienced writers would have finessed, and the "woman in jeopardy" ending is as stock as explosions in a Sylvester Stallone movie. Yet Grant has written a strong debut novel about a heroine with unexpected and as-yet unexplored depths, and that alone is worth cheering.

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