SHERYL J. ANDERSON – Killer Cocktail

St. Martin’s; paperback reprint, May 2006. Hardcover: St. Martin’s Press, August 2005.

   Killer Cocktail is the second in a series of what are now three cases solved by Mollie Forrester, a New York City based advice columnist (and wishful crusading reporter) for fashionable Zeitgeist magazine. In order, here they are:

      Killer Heels. St. Martin’s Press, May 2004. Paperback: June 2005.


      Killer Cocktail. St. Martin’s Press, August 2005. Paperback: May 2006.

      Killer Deal. St. Martin’s Press, July 2006. Paperback: not yet scheduled.

      Unnamed Molly #4. “In the works.”    [See the update below.]

   According to Booklist, the authors are a pseudonymous husband-and-wife writing team, and if that is the case, the copyright notice in Cocktail gives it all away: copyright © by Sheryl J. Anderson & Mark Edward Parrott. On the other hand, the author’s website does not admit to any other author than the female half of the husband-and-wife team, so I will leave the question open to more diligent detectives than I.

   I suppose I should also admit upfront that a case of murder that are tackled and cracked by a team of female friends in the city is a phenomenon that I am somewhat unaccustomed to and/or unfamiliar with. Whether or not it is a rare phenomenon I do not know, not having read any of Stephanie Plum’s adventures, for example, nor ever (in regards to non-mystery fiction) having seen Sex in the City.


   Not that there is any sex in Killer Cocktail, but both examples are suggestions put forth by reviewers who’ve posted comments on Amazon in attempting, and I presume accurately, to inform readers just what kind of book this one by Sheryl Anderson happens to be.

   (If truth be said, I do not believe such mystery novels are rare. I am perfectly content to assume that I have not (yet) happened upon them, and if I simply keep reading, I will come across another one soon.)

   Mollie’s female friends are, to enumerate: event planner Tricia Vincent, whose brother’s prospective bride falls to the titular poisoned cocktail in the Hamptons only hours before the wedding; and Cassady Lynch, successful lawyer. Mollie’s male friend and as such, an item of significant interest to her, is NYPD homicide detective Kyle Edwards, who is therefore out of his jurisdiction in the Hamptons.

   How close a male friend Kyle is to Mollie, even at the risk of repeating myself, is a matter of some reflection and concern throughout the book, including some strong attacks of jealousy perhaps whenever Detective Darcy Cook of Suffolk County Homicide is on the scene, which is often, as the Hamptons do happen to be in her jurisdiction.

   The book is funny, light, breezy and so tightly told that it made my jaws ache. There is also (as hinted above) a good deal of internal pondering – I have neglected to mention that Mollie herself tells the story – and there are both a sizable number of suspects – it was a large party at which the victim died after all – and there are a good number of pages (over 300) to read before the end is in sight.

   In this regard, I have been debating whether or not to tell you this, but I guess I am, for whatever it’s worth. I stalled out round the 250 page mark and didn’t pick the book up again for a week.

   But I’m glad I did. Pick it up again, that is, even above and beyond the consideration of the time already invested. Perhaps you have to be in the right mood to begin with, as the author doesn’t concede a thing to the reader, nor will she diverge from her way of telling her story for anyone or anything. I like an author with a goal and a sense of purpose in mind, and one who sticks to it.

   And anyone who can write a passage like the one following, taken from page 256, is worth reading, no matter what. Mollie is in the City at the time:

    “I was only about ten blocks from the office and I thought the walk might help my hangover as well as my thought process. Besides, I love walking in the city, throwing myself into the river of people moving up and down the island all day and most of the night, and letting the current carry me along. It’s not good for the shoes, but it’s good for the soul. The pace and size of the city make it easy to feel disconnected, but when you walk down the sidewalk and just spend a few minutes watching the huge spectrum of people rushing along right beside you, worrying about being disconnected, too, sometimes that’s a connection in itself and you feel part of something larger than your own panics and problems. Maybe you’re just a fish swimming along with a school, maybe you’re a star in a constellation, maybe you’re part of the human race. Whichever, you’re not alone.”

— June 2006

[UPDATE] 08-10-08.    Killer Deal came out in paperback from St. Martin’s in July 2007. The previously unknown title of book #4 is Killer Riff (St. Martin’s, hc, Nov 2007; ppbk, July 2008).

   In spite of an excellent sales ranking for the series on Amazon, there is no mention of a fifth book on Sheryl Anderson’s website. (The paperback edition of Riff, which just came out is ranked #89,277. (Out of over six million books with sales rankings, this is excellent.)


   And if it matters, I still have not seen Sex in the City or read a Stephanie Plum book. Someday, I’m sure.

[UPDATE #2] 08-13-08.   Excerpted from an email send me by Victor Berch:

Hi Steve:

   … As for Sheryl J. Anderson, her full name is Sheryl June Anderson, born in LA 10 March 1958. Started out as a playwright. Parrott was born Oct. 21, 1951 in Kern County, CA.

   Don’t know who’s going to use this info as no one as far as I know is carrying on Al Hubin’s good work from 2001 on up.