Extra CreditExtra Credit by Maggie Barbieri is the seventh book in the “Murder 101″ mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur, December 2012

Alison Bergeron has her doubts about hosting a birthday party for her twin stepdaughters, seeing as it’ll include all of her new husband’s ex-in-laws. Still, she’s a good sport, and everyone has a great time, especially the girls, who receive $10,000 from their estranged uncle, Chick.

The girls’ father, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford, and Christine, his ex, think the gift is too much. When Crawford swings by Chick’s apartment to return it, he finds Chick dead, with roughly $250,000 stuffed in his mattress. The death is ruled a suicide, but Christine isn’t convinced, and even Alison can’t help but admit that there must be a lot more to Chick’s death than meets the eye.

Extra Credit, the latest in Maggie Barbieri’s stellar Murder 101 series, finds Alison and Bobby delving into family secrets they’d both rather leave untouched.

I really love this series and in particular this latest book in which Alison’s stepdaughter’s birthday party puts her in the middle of her husband’s ex-wife family drama when her long lost brother returns and later is found dead with oodles of money stashed under a mattress. A great book embroils you in the words on the page and that is what Maggie Barbieri does in this engaging romp as Alison becomes involved in yet another upside down world of amateur sleuthing. The action begins immediately and doesn’t let up until the end, in this fast-paced drama that kept me riveted to the pages, as I had to know what happens next and how our illustrious heroine gets out of the situations she seems to find herself caught up in. It’s always a great time well spent with this lovable cast of characters in this delightfully well-written series.

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