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  • Murdered, My Sweet
  • Written by Joan Lowery Nixon
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307538697
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Murdered, My Sweet

Written by Joan Lowery NixonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Joan Lowery Nixon


List Price: $6.99


On Sale: October 31, 2012
Pages: 208 | ISBN: 978-0-307-53869-7
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Jenny Jakes and her mother, a famous mystery writer, travel to San Antonio to see their cousin, Arnold Harmony, who's made his fortune in the chocolate business. Harmony, an eccentric millionaire, wants his will read publicly before he dies; since everyone wants a piece of the pie, this announcement causes quite a stir. When Harmony's son is murdered just before the reading, Jenny's mother decides to spring into action as a real-life detective. But Jenny's mother doesn't have a clue about solving a real crime, so it's up to Jenny to use her wits, not only to save her mother's reputation, but also to keep herself from being killed.

From the Paperback edition.


Chapter One

It 's not easy being related to a woman who's famous for murdering people.

Don't get me wrong. Mom's not a real murderer. She's Madeline Jakes, the most famous mystery writer in the United States maybe the world. She's a good writer, too, I've never met anyone who could read one of Mom's novels late at night and not have to sleep with the bathroom light on.

So many people have seen Mom's picture on the back of her book jackets and watched her being interviewed on TV that they recognize her in public places. "There's Madeline Jakes!" some whisper. Some point. Maybe because they've been watching too much television, I notice some glance around to see if Mom's with the police, helping to solve a murder at that very moment.

Solve a murder? Mom? It's actually funny. My mom is a woman who half the time can't even figure out where she put her car keys or placed her glasses. She rarely remembers birthdays or doctor appointments or speaking engagements unless she's reminded, Mom has never solved a murder in her life, except for the murders in her books. Because she makes those up, she knows from the very beginning "whodunnit." I don't count them.

Try telling that to Mom. She's actually started to believe what she reads about herself, because when fans ask her about real cases she's solved, she doesn't come right out and say, "What cases? The police have never once asked for my help." Instead she smiles as though she has a big secret. She even giggles, which is really gross behavior for a forty-three-year-old woman. When I hear her murmur something about classified information, I want to . . . well, just imagine!

"If I only had the chance, Jenny," Mom said to me recently, "I know I could use my skills as a mystery writer to solve real crimes.

"Mom," I reminded her, "it's your brother who solves real crimes. Uncle Bill's a homicide detective. You're a writer. You use your imagination and your computer to give your fans stories about make--believe murders.''

Mom tapped a pencil against her nose, smiled, and gazed far away. "But if I had the chance to solve a real crime," she insisted, "I know I could."

It wouldn't have done any good to answer. I fought back the resentment that sometimes boils up and threatens to choke me when Mom goes off into her fictional world like one of her own characters. That's when, more than ever, I wish that Dad were still alive, because whenever Mom became a sailboat, Dad was there as an anchor. And sometimes I want to scream at Mom, "You're the mother, not me! You're supposed to be taking care of me! Why do I end up having to take care of you?"

Dad had been an officer in the Air Force, and we were transferred so much we were never able to make friends who were keepers. When I was little it didn't matter to me, because there were always kids around to play with, but Mom likes people and badly wanted friends, so everywhere we went she joined clubs and took classes in whatever was handy. That's how she became interested in writing. She signed up for a class in "How to Write a Mystery Novel," and found as she told us where she truly belonged.

Her books were published, but Mom didn't make much money with them for the first few years. And when Dad's plane crashed, Mom was so heartbroken I thought she'd never be able to write again. But Mom has always had courage and spunk, and one day she told me, "Jenny, if I work hard and write books that people want to read, I know that someday I can make a good life for you.

Maybe Mom knew all along that her books would be best-sellers and she'd be famous. And maybe somewhere inside her all along was the persona that blossomed overnight. A publicist advised her, "Don't go to interviews or talk shows as a pleasant neighbor-next-door. Your public wants to see a writer of mysteries. That means glamour . . . drama . . . pizzazz!"

The chiffon scarves, the drama, and the "darlings" fit Mom like a beautiful new dress. I didn't mind at first. Mom had always been filled with imagination and fun. However, her new personality has a downside. It may be that the glamorous mystery writer is no longer able to handle all the mundane, routine details of life by herself. Or maybe she enjoys leaving them behind and joining the social life of many of the famous people she meets. Whatever the reason, I end up having to do a lot of the mothering. I'm too young to be a mother especially my mother's mother but there's nothing I can do about it.

In spite of having to deal with a mother who spends much of her life in never-never land, I love my mom. I really do, even during the moments when we seem to be trying to drive each other crazy.

When Mom's not mentally off somewhere inside the story she's writing, she's fun to be with, and often, when she goes away on weekends or holidays, for autographings or to give lectures, she takes me with her. I swim in the hotel pool or lie on the beach, and eat great food. When people smile and ask me, "Do you ever help your mother solve mysteries?" I answer, "I'm the one who helps her remember where she's going so she can catch her plane on time."

They think that's a great joke. Unfortunately for me it isn't a joke.

I've always liked to read mysteries. I think it's because I love the challenge of spotting clues and figuring things out. I started reading Nancy Drews when I was seven. I soon graduated into young adult mysteries stacks and stacks of them and now I'm into some of Dad's old Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald stories, and Mom's Sue Grafton and Mary Higgins Clark novels.

I'm pretty good at figuring out whodunnit before the last big scene, but Mom never can. At first I thought that her mind went off in directions she'd take if she were writing the story. Or that she got sidetracked by the characters. Or that maybe she became too tangled in motives and means to recognize the crucial clue when she saw it. But I realized what the problem was when, one day, Mom showed me how she developed and put together the parts of a story.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Joan Lowery Nixon

About Joan Lowery Nixon

Joan Lowery Nixon - Murdered, My Sweet

Photo © Gittings

“In every story I write I give a great deal of thought to the main character, because the story is his, or hers. The direction of the story is determined by the main character’s ambitions and reactions. The main character is the one to whom the readers will relate.”—Joan Lowery Nixon

Joan Lowery Nixon is the only four-time winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award and a two-time winner of the California Young Reader Medal.


Whether it’s engrossing historical dramas, chilling mysteries, suspense-filled page-turners, or adventure stories, kids, teachers, and librarians love the books of Joan Lowery Nixon.

Nixon is half Californian, half Texan. She has a degree in journalism and credentials in elementary education. Nixon has written over 130 books for children from preschool age through young adult—including science books, co-authored with her husband, geologist Hershell Nixon. Her books have garnered numerous awards and accolades, including the Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile and the Texas Institute of Letters Award. Many of Nixon’s books have won state children’s choice awards. She is the only four-time winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. Nixon has four children and several grandchildren.

Nixon describes the pleasure she gets from writing mystery and suspense: “When I was young I discovered an evening radio program called I Love a Mystery. It was intriguing, suspenseful, and at times absolutely terrifying, and the title was correct. I did love a mystery—on radio, in films, and especially in books. Maybe I’m really a detective at heart because much later in my life, when I began to write books for young people, I discovered writing mysteries was even more fun than reading them.

“A mystery begins to develop in my mind when something sparks an idea and a question grows from it. What would it be like to move into a house in which a murder had taken place? How would I feel if my best friend were arrested for murder on circumstantial evidence? As a question develops into an answer, I give a great deal of thought to my main character. She is the most important part of the story, and I see it take shape through her eyes. Before I write a word of the story I know how I’ll begin it and how I’ll end it, making sure to put in honest clues and distracting red herrings—just to make the mystery all the more fun to solve. I love mysteries, and I want my readers to love them, too.”

In creating the acclaimed Orphan Train Adventures, Nixon explored a time and place in America’s recent past that is not widely covered in history lessons. She explains, “It was a part of history I hadn’t known: that beginning in 1854, over 100,000 homeless children were rescued from the streets of New York City and sent by train to new homes in the West. As I researched early journals, I found many letters—some hopeful, some sad—and reports which told of tears as brothers and sisters were separated or a child was not chosen. I wanted to bring history and fiction together in an exciting, adventurous time and place, to tell the stories of those who could have traveled west on the Orphan Train.”

Many of Nixon’s readers have written to her asking how to get published. Her novel The Making of a Writer, a part memoir, part how-to book, is her answer to them. From her first publication at age 10—a poem titled “Springtime”—to her graduation from Hollywood High during World War II, Nixon shares the incidents from her childhood that helped her to develop as a writer.


“A fast-moving, entertaining mystery with an intelligent and spunky heroine.”—Booklist

“Another solid Nixon mystery without too much violence and lots of suspense.”—Booklist

“Another successful page-turner. . . . Reluctant readers and mystery lovers alike will welcome a trip to this mansion.”—School Library Journal

“Thrilling . . . a riveting tale of suspense set against a background of fascinating historical context brought up to date through e-mail and the Internet.”—School Library Journal

“Enriched with family troubles, guilty secrets, and a whiff of the supernatural, this page-turner will please the legions of Nixon fans.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Masterfully constructed. . . . Ingeniously plotted, fast-paced and lighthearted, this mystery manages to blend an engrossing double murder brainteaser with the blossoming of a self-conscious teen into a self-assured young woman.”—Publishers Weekly

“Nixon’s reputation as the grande dame of mysteries for young readers remains solidly intact with this thriller . . . a topnotch choice.”—Starred, School Library Journal


“As close to perfect a book. . . . The plot is rational and well-paced; the characters are real and believable; the time setting is important in U.S. history; and the values all that anyone can ask for.”—VOYA

“This exciting and touching novel projects an aura of historical reality.”—School Library Journal


“There is suspense, surprise, and heartfelt emotion, and there is a useful historical note at the end.”—Booklist


“Her fans will be right at home.”—Publishers Weekly

“Another solid Nixon mystery. Young teens will delight in Jenny’s deft cover-up of her mother’s detective deficiencies and the touch of light romance.”—Booklist

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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