Mommy-Track Mystery Series by Ayelet Waldman

Oct 25, 2012

I admit: The reason I first picked up a book by Ayelet Waldman is because I have a literary crush on her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Michael Chabon.  I wanted to get into the head of Waldman, to see what Chabon sees in her.  After having devoured all seven of her Mommy-Track Mystery series, I understand her appeal.

Waldman was born in Jerusalem on December 11, 1964.  She grew up in Montreal and New Jersey, but she now resides in Berkeley, California with Chabon and their four kids: Sophie, Zeke, Ida-Rose, and Abraham.

Like her Mommy-Track series protagonist, full-time mom and part-time sleuth Juliet Applebaum, Waldman gave up her career as a federal public defender in California to stay home with her children.  A 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School, she has used her education and experiences as an attorney to enliven her fiction.

Waldman’s Mommy-Track Mystery series includes the following titles: Nursery Crimes (2000), The Big Nap (2001), A Playdate with Death (2002), Death Gets a Time-Out (2003), Murder Plays House (2004), The Cradle Robbers (2005), and Bye-Bye Black Sheep (2006).  Amateur detective Applebaum wants to be a good mother, but her impatience with the boredom of day-to-day child rearing contrasts with the excitement and intellectual stimulation she garners while solving crimes.  That, and she’s just plain nosey.  Fortunately Applebaum, kind of a knocked-up version of Jessica Fletcher, uses her meddling skills to lead her and her ample pregnant belly to the murderers.  Waldman’s mystery writing is fast-paced, funny, and smart.  The plots, ranging from the disappearance of a babysitter hired so Applebaum can take a nap, to the murder of an anorexic b-movie star whose brother’s house Applebaum wants to buy, are engaging and satisfying.

Since evidently parenting her four children and writing isn’t enough to keep Waldman busy, she writes about the books she’s been reading in a booklog on her webpage,

Now that I know more about Ayelet Waldman, my jealousy toward her stems not from her marriage to Chabon but from her ability to create, both children and writing, so prolifically.  But reading her books brings me so much pleasure, I’ll forgive her.

Reviewed by Becky C.
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