Sweet Man is Gone
Five Star (2008)
Reviewed by Wendy Cleveland for Reader Views (5/08)
Maxx Maxwell works by day at the Seafood Chalet in Hackensack, New Jersey. But, at night, she is a Manhattan blues club singer for her band Maxximum Blues. One night at a gig, her guitarist Jimmy Nashville starts singing the Muddy Waters tune “Who’s Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I’m Gone,” and asks Maxx “Would you miss me if I was gone?” This line starts the rollercoaster ride of Peggy Ehrhart’s novel “Sweet Man Is Gone.”
When Maxx goes to Jimmy’s apartment to pick him up for their next gig, she sees a bunch police and ambulance blocking the roadway. When she comes closer to see what happened, she discovers that Jimmy fell to his death from his apartment window. The police want to rule this as a suicide since there was no evidence indicating foul play. Maxx finds it hard to believe that her friend would commit suicide so she starts her own investigation while still trying to hold her band together. Along the way, she runs into some shady characters like the “tall man” who was harassing Jimmy at the club, Jimmy’s girlfriend Monique (who has her own issues), Stan, the jilted guitar player that Maxx fired and replaced him with Jimmy, Bart, who’s trying to raise money for his concert “Blues from the Heart” as well as her own band mates, Michael, Dom, and Neil who are ready to quit.
While reading this cozy mystery, I enjoyed Maxx’s “Jersey” sassiness as she interacts with all of the characters (including Jimmy’s neighbor “Helen” – who was a hoot) who may or may not have anything to do with Jimmy’s death. Throughout the book, the clues (cassette tape, guitar pick, box cutter just to name a few) pointed in one direction where you thought you knew the outcome. However, there were so many twists and turns you kept guessing until the last few pages, literally.
“Sweet Man Is Gone” was an edge of your seat cozy mystery that left me wanting more of Maxx Maxwell. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I was sorry to see it end. Can’t wait for the next installment!