4 star rating
A Dead Husband
Jessica Huntington #1
By Anna Celeste Burke
ISBN# 9781494413514)
Author’s Website: http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com/

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra  


Jessica Huntington, rich, beautiful, and smart, seeks refuge from betrayal in a desert paradise near Palm Springs only to discover life is full of surprises…like a dead husband. Jessica Huntington is hiding out from her own well-planned life, now in shambles. Her law career tanked by the Great Recession, she failed miserably as a desperate housewife in the Silicon Valley playing beat-the-clock with her 30-something hormones. In the end she put on a little baby fat, but no baby. The final blow: walking in on her husband in bed with a well-known Hollywood blond. The Rancho Mirage home where she grew up, surrounded by the beauty of the desert resort town near Palm Springs, seems the perfect place to take refuge. That is until her best friend’s husband is murdered. Jessica and her friends are soon thrust into the fray stalked by scoundrels in pantyhose, stilettos, Bruno Magli shoes, and Armani suits. Roger Stone had something that got him killed. What was it and to what lengths will they go to get it back? This is the first in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series.


A thoroughly engaging, vividly told mystery with a cast of very likeable yet quirky characters.  I must say, a fine way to start a new series of cozy mysteries.  And a series which I fully intend to read to its conclusion, however many books are written in this series.  My dilemma is in writing a review while keeping the “juicy” bits secret…for you to discover yourself.

What sets this story apart from other mysteries that I have read is the down-to-earth storytelling. Generally I did not feel that events could be anything but a real life story.  Okay….Typically, I do not hang out with “rich” folks, but they had trials and tribulations (apart from the murder) that are just real life, like us not “rich” folks”.   The way Jessica goes about trying to solve the mystery and help Laura is so believable and exactly what a caring friend would do!

The story starts off at Jessica Huntington-Harper’s divorce party.  But the next morning…..everything goes haywire.  We are introduced to Jessica as she awakes with not one, but two men in her room after a night of drunken debauchery.  And to further complicate the events of the prior evening…her best friend, Laura, leaves the party with Eric (for as we find out…a one night liaison of the adult kind with the hunk).  Enter…the murder.  When Laura returns home, she discovers her husband has been murdered.  Who does she call….Jessica (a lawyer) of course.

I loved the way the story unfolded in incremental steps which were easy to follow and not too far-fetched. Let us not forget the humor as well.  For example – after being told about the murder by Laura, Jessica hops in the shower before running to Laura’s aid:

Shades of V.I. Warshawski, she muttered, stepping from the shower.  She tried out a steel-eyed gaze.  More like Scooby-Doo, she said aloud to the woman in the mirror.” 

I loved the reference; it certainly brought a chuckle out of this reader 🙂 .

Frequently Jessica is put in peril or in odd situations…..of course…one might have wondered…why Jessica at every turn?  Seemed when it rained, it poured, as far as Jessica getting physically beat up….poor girl.  Loved that she was able to put those Jimmy Choo, open-toed, pumps to good use!  Another smile moment.

Bernadette/St. Bernadette….a truly refreshing character.  Described so well by the author:

Officially hired on as the family’s housekeeper before Jessica was born. But she had become much more than that over the years.  A confidant when Jessica was at odds with her parents and her most formidable opponent in her teen years. Bernadette possessed an eerie sixth sense for when Jessica was up to no good and had caught her many times doing something she shouldn’t have been doing.” 

Bernadette is the quintessential housekeeper (and SO MUCH MORE)…keeping the household running but not catering to every whim of Jessica.  Bernadette is the “shoulders” of the household, when Jessica needs grounding and put in her place (in a good way) or needs her back covered….Bernadette is there! 

We get glimpses of the deeper person of Jessica.  Amongst all of this murder and mayhem, she is still reeling and processing her impending divorce…if only she would just sign those darn papers.  That in and of itself showed greater depth that usually afforded a cozy mystery. A real life situation which definitely requires thought before action.

I quite enjoyed Margarit and her role in this sorted tale.  Now if she would only make calls when she was sober!  Her storyline has more depth that one would believe in the beginning….enjoy the journey 🙂 .  Through the story, trying to figure out why Roger was killed…we come to many conclusions about Roger….is he a good guy or a bad guy?  Many bumps in that road. 

I enjoyed the introduction of Jessica and her “cat pack” in this new series and wait with baited breath until I am able to read the next installment of this series. 🙂