Roadkill, by Alexandra Allred (2013)

Roadkill(nb: I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)

Juggling Diapers and Danger: Meet Allie Lindell
Allie Lindell is not enjoying a halcyon movie relationship at the moment. She’s a stay-at-home mom for her two young daughters, and Allie and Rae Ann, her partner, frequently find themselves arguing. Everything should be going fine. Allie could stay home with two-year-old Krissy and ten-month-old Kelli, while Rae Ann works. Perfect or not, that’s their arrangement.

Allie Lindell was a journalist before she resigned to pursue mommyhood. Once Allie became a fulltime mom and homemaker, she missed the job, so she took part-time research work from her friend and hotshot investigative journalist, Sandy. The small pay was worth less to her than was the chance to do something intellectually fulfilling.

So one day, she hits paydirt. Not only does Allie suspect something phony in a police detective’s murder–he’d been acquitted for abusing his niece, but something else doesn’t feel right–Sandy provides a story of her own. For months, a serial killer has been roaming the nation’s interstate highways. When a body is found on a small highway nearby, it becomes a local story.

Allie jumps into both cases as best she can. This irks her K-9 Officer sister, Michelle, who just wants her to stay away from cases and leave investigating to professionals.

Allie can’t do it. Between juggling naps and wondering why the toddler put her diaper on her baby sister’s head, Allie manages to piece together new information regarding the slain detective’s death. She also finds time to poke into the Highway Killer case, and before she knows it, she’s neck deep in two separate cases, just trying to solve them before they ruin her.

Potential danger aside, all of her extra work has put a huge strain on Allie’s relationship with Rae Ann. They disagree, they fight, they yell, they ice each other. The relationship is crumbling. Rae Ann can’t understand why Allie can’t just stay home and take care of the kids like she’d agreed to, and Allie can’t explain clearly enough how she needs something to occupy her mind, how it’s her nature to investigate and solve cases.

As Allie nears breaking-open both cases, her relationship comes close to breaking-up, and Allie just might not live long enough to make amends.

“Roadkill” works pretty well as a mystery. Allie is a quick thinker, and clever at getting people to say more than they’d intended, plus there are some very interesting plot twists. I especially like Allie’s cop sister, Michelle, and her bad-ass police dog, Kipper. Michelle may pamper Kipper like a spoiled poodle, but when it’s time to work, you do not want Michelle commanding him to attack.

However, I think the strongest part of “Roadkill” is the relationship between Allie and Rae Ann. When you’re used to working full-time—as was Allie—and you stop to raise kids, it’s tough on the stay-at-home spouse. My best friend and his wife (both English teachers) went through the same thing. You love your kids, but you miss having something to challenge your mind and enable you to converse with someone who can answer in complete sentences.

As much as I could sympathize with Allie, I really get Rae Ann’s point-of-view: This is what you wanted, and this is how we agreed to do it, so why are you running around investigating dangerous things, and leaving our kids with sitters? I’m sure I’d feel the same way—just, leave the reporting and law enforcement to reporters and police officers.

And that’s the one problem I had with “Roadkill.” It’s neither a big nor crucial point, but I felt like Allie is portrayed as a superwoman, able to make dinner, change diapers, get the kids down for their naps, perform investigative journalism, and nab criminals, all better than anyone else. I’m not sure why Sandy would be unable to report the Highway Killer story without Allie’s help, and I’d certainly hope the city’s police force would be able to solve a crime, especially a cop-killing.

I get that Allie is the protagonist, but she seems a little too good at everything she touches, at least except for being a loving and supportive partner. I’m not saying she shouldn’t help out Sandy with research, and earn a little cash on the side, but that’s a far cry from constantly leaving your kids with sitters while you gad about town trying to solve murders—even moreso, when you drag the kids along on a stakeout. Honestly, there are times Allie really sounds like she resents her children. I think part of being a good life partner is not giving your beloved unnecessary reason to worry. When Rae Ann points this out, Allie blasts back that Rae Ann still spends free time on her softball team, with practices and beers after games, etc.

Total non sequitur. It’s not at all the same thing.

I don’t doubt Allie’s love for Rae Ann, but her behavior shows a pretty flagrant lack of respect for her feelings (and Rae Ann has pretty damn valid concerns, I think).

At the end of “Roadkill,” I’m glad Rae Ann and Allie are still together. If things don’t change, though, the biggest mystery will be how much longer they last.

Recommended.

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About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
This entry was posted in Books, LGBT, Mysteries/Thrillers, series. Bookmark the permalink.

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