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.
Barbieri's diverting seventh mystery featuring English professor Alison Bergeron (after 2011's Physical Education) finds Alison juggling her teaching duties at St. Thomas University in the Bronx with far more dangerous pursuits. Second marriages for both Alison and her new husband, NYPD homicide cop Bobby Crawford, create a spate of complex and delicate family relationships. Alison's 19-year-old twin stepdaughters bring resentment and some wild romantic entanglements, while Bobby is a little too friendly with ex-wife Christine. But when Christine's brother, Chick, is found dead in his sleazy apartment with $250,000 tucked into his mattress, events spin out of control. Alison, sarcastic and brash, wins no friends in pursuing the source of the money, as well as losing the trust of her best friend and the seriously annoying Bobby. Quirky characters complement a plot that offers a number of entertaining if sometimes illogical surprises. An irresistible hook at the conclusion will draw readers to the next installment.