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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door

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The second installment of the Professional Busybody series. I absolutely loved the first book in the series and this one did not disappoint. The plot was very difficult for me to figure out and I was not able to guess the ending. Just the right amount of humor and seriousness for a cozy mystery. Looking forward to the next book in the series!
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The second book in the Jane Darrowfield Mystery series by Barbara Ross is Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door.  Jane is approached by her next door neighbor Megan with a new case.  Megan is certain that she is going crazy.  Jane's simple investigation takes a sinister turn when Megan is missing.  Jane is a great cozy mystery heroine.  She is smart and thorough, realistic while staying true to the genre.  The mystery was a bit on the weaker side.  I guessed the culprit despite the author throwing out piles of red herring.  I adore Jane though and can hardly wait until the next installment.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie

This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries so far this year! I was very pleased at how complex the mystery became. I met Jane and her bridge-playing friends in the first book in the series and enjoy them immensely. A senior sleuth, Jane brings a calm to any situation, a direct result of years of upper management experience.  West Cambridge in autumn through the eyes of Jane and her new client sounded very lovely, including the area around Harvard. Part of the mystery stunned me, something I would never have guessed!

Jane has a discreet “professional busybody” sign with her hours and “No Job Too Small” at her garden sidewalk. In the months since helping solve a murder and meeting her beau, Harry, she has had several small cases for local people. Her skills of reading others by their body language and simple observation are put to good use. Those skills and more will be vital to her new case.

Jane moved into the neighborhood forty years ago, keeping the house as part of her divorce settlement. At the time it was purchased, prices in the neighborhood were affordable for a young professional husband with a stay-at-home wife. In recent years, the huge homes have been gutted and flipped for exorbitant prices, being sold to foreign investors who use them as vacation homes. Many are vacant most of the year. The same development company purchases, upgrades with every imaginable amenity, and markets to a similar demographic. It is one of these homes that Megan, Jane’s next-door neighbor, purchased last year.

Megan came to meet Jane and hire her. She has unusual requests, including that Jane observe her life and advise if her experiences are real or symptoms of possible mental health challenges. These include things such as lights flashing at night until she opens her eyes, the garage door mysteriously being raised, and hearing voices that awaken her. They are almost nightly events, totally exhausting this young, ambitious attorney who is being considered for a partnership opportunity at her firm. She doesn’t think she is losing it, but rather that someone is stalking her and doing these things. Megan gives Jane permission to talk to her one close friend and colleague, Andy, and a one-time date she met online if Jane doesn’t tell them the reason for the questions.

Megan disappeared days later, and Andy called the police when, for the first time ever, she missed a very critical client meeting. The police detective, who knew Jane from past cases, called her after seeing her name and phone number on Megan’s board. They also called her father, who claimed that, when under great stress, Megan would disappear to unwind. Jane later went back to Megan’s house, using the alarm codes Megan gave her, after the police left. She wanted to search again for Megan’s cat, Wembly, who Andy and the police were unable to locate. She knew Megan would be devastated if the cat would starve or be injured and alone while she was gone. In the basement, she saw a light on under a wall of the wine room, and found – a panic room?

The detective called the alarm company, who could meet him and enter the panic room code. Inside they found a very hungry cat and one of Megan’s slippers, the mate to which was in the middle of her bedroom floor. The police were now able to upgrade Megan to an official missing person.

The characters are three-dimensional, many who I would enjoy knowing. They are an eclectic mix of people, including Jane’s neighborhood friends, the few people in Megan’s life, the property developer, and the alarm company. Each are described as necessary for their roles. Jane and her friends of a similar age are delightful in a way that only long-term friends can be. I don’t discount the younger people, such as Andy and the barista at Peet’s, who are also interesting and delightful.

The solutions to these occurrences were complex, from Megan possibly being stalked and the unusual happenings in her home to her disappearance. How many people were involved with these schemes? Plot twists kept me guessing who the bad guy(s) really was. Part of the answer is chilling, not something I’ve seen in mysteries thus far. There were a couple very startling revelations, and the finale was totally satisfying. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and look forward to many more books in this series!
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Jane Darrowfield found that taking early retirement and moving to West Cambridge, Massachusetts, left her with too much time on her hands and bored out of her mind. It didn’t take long before her inherent ability to solve other people’s problems led her to create her own paid business as Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody. What is a surprise is that her first meeting with new neighbor Megan Larson is as a possible client. Megan fears that like her own mother, she is slowly going crazy with lights going on and off around her house and inexplicable temperature changes. Megan wants to keep any investigation on the down-low, as she is up for partnership at her law firm and any whisper of psychiatric problems would jeopardize her chances. Even Megan’s smart-home, elaborate new security system can’t protect the beautiful young woman though, as she suddenly vanishes without sign of violence.

Megan recently ended a long-term relationship with an ex-boyfriend, and her experiences with online dating has been less than successful. While Jane’s personal delving into the latter yielded far happier results, Megan’s run of losers only resulted in disappointment and possible stalkers. A less-dire but equally important case for Jane comes in a dispute over the ownership of a roaming house cat, whom everyone but the purported owners know cannot truly be owned. As the case of Megan Larson’s disappearance becomes a media event, Jane inches closer to discovering if Megan ran off on her own, suffered a breakdown, or was the victim of an devious gaslighter.

Jane Darrowfield is not your typical retiree, choosing instead to go full-throttle into another career as an unofficial private investigator. Being a busybody means that she doesn’t have to get an actual investigator’s license, and it also means that she can very stealthily sneak past those who are lulled in by her unassuming appearance. As she builds this new life, she learns not only to let herself love again, but to accept that she’s worthy of it despite a previous bad marriage and estrangement from her son. Seeing her resolve that relationship give readers something to look forward to as they anticipate the next of this engaging, unique, very empathetic mystery series. The weighty emotional beats are as genuine as the low-key humor and observations, making this a smart and cleverly crafted mystery.
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It is, as always, a very satisfying experience to be greeted well by the second book in a series. The first book had potential, I liked the overall presentation, but it felt stilted at times. The author has since found the correct voice for the flow of the narrative to feel more natural.
Jane Darrowfield is a professional busybody with a card and everything. She does not have people beating down her doors for consultations, but a steady trickle of issues keeps her occupied. Her personal life is something she is starting to fix, but pieces of the past continue to trouble her. Although I got a better picture of what those issues were, nothing much was resolved in that area. I guess it might be handled in better detail in the next.
The plot itself is unique and very appropriate to the kind of business that Jane runs. Her neighbour is afraid that there is something wrong with her. She needs an unbiased (because Jane does not know her or even spoken to her before that moment) person to watch and see if she is imagining things or if she should seek proper professional help (which would be detrimental to her career prospects).
This is the innocuous and slightly sinister beginning. There are a lot of red herrings and painstaking investigations on Jane's part. I was firmly invested in the wrong suspect for much of the book, having moved from the actual culprit (who I randomly guessed initially). I like such books because it has me invested in every following chapter. I highly recommend this series to those who like Cozy mysteries and are weary of the too casual ones that are more frequently available. This is a steady paced book with a serious protagonist who has a professional outlook on her processes, even if she goes around calling herself a busybody!
I would definitely be picking up the next in the series.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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Jane Darrowfield is someone I would love to get to know!  This is the second installment in the Jane Darrowfield series and it finds Jane continuing her 'busybody' services trying to help her neighbor Megan who has hired her to determine if she is going crazy, or if someone is out to get her.  Jane methodically goes about trying to complete the task for which Megan has hired her, until Megan goes missing.  Working with Detective Alvarez by providing information she uncovers during her own investigation, Jane is able to uncover a connection between Megan's mother's past and what Megan has been experiencing.  Independently both Jane and Detective Alvarez realize who the villain is and solve the crime.

This book is great for so many reasons - Jane is older and retired, and is not sitting idle during her 'golden years' - she has an active group of friends and a romantic interest in widowed Harry.  In addition to finding Megan, Jane has a case that involves her neighbor's cat.  Jane has a great relationship with the detective who obviously trusts Jane's work as much as his own, and willingly investigates Janes ideas.  Jane is compassionate, keeping both Megan's best friend Andy, and Megan's mother informed of what's going on while also providing a listening ear.  Jane is astute and a good judge of much to like about this book!  

This is an interesting story as it takes every day modern conveniences and in a very real way makes them integral to the story.  The method by which Megan is harassed can happen and may make you think twice about your own personal security!  This is a very vague comment but stating too much can give away the story!  

The story kept you guessing the whole way through, although I did have an inkling of who may have abducted Megan, but only after several red herrings!

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door is yet another outstanding book by Barbara Ross and I will try to patiently await the next in the series.

Thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for the copy of this book!
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The combination of a retired, busybody main character, a New England setting, and an author whose other work I have thoroughly enjoyed, made me certain that I must read Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door.  Jane, our busybody, becomes involved in assisting her new neighbor, Megan, who is experiencing some alarming symptoms/circumstances.  When Megan disappears, Jane is on the case to discover what happened.  While this is the second in a series, I did not feel confused or like I was missing important background despite the fact that I haven’t yet read book one.  Ross’ Maine Clambake Mystery series has long been an auto-buy series for me, but now I can confidently say that Barbara Ross is an auto-buy author for me.  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the first Jane Darrowfield book soon!

Thanks go to @NetGalley and @KensingtonBooks for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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This is the 2nd in series and  a fun read. I enjoy this series and all work  by Barbara Ross. I highly recommend this cozy mystery for your reading enjoyment. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley. My review opinions are my own.  This has a excellent writing style that kept me turning pages to conclusion. The charcters are all richly defined and add to the series.  I have issues with the insulting title which I address below that labels all victims of stalking as "mad". Thus the three star rating. 

. Jane Darrowfield has been retired for a while and is bored.  She previously helped a friend with a private problem and now has a reputation in her small town for being a person that can keep secrets and solve private problems . Her new neighbor is being traumatized by a apparent stalker and hires Jane.  Her home has all the signs of a stalker attacking her and her home.  She is alone in life and terribly frightened.   Then the neighbor disappears. Jane is on the case and when her cat disappears she is determined to solve both mysteries and find her cat. 

 I look forward to the next in series. Note as the victim of a stalker I do not like the title of this book nor the suggestion that anyone of us women that report a stalker are deemed "mad women" It is derogatory and insulting to victims. I would suggest a name change to this particular book. I rated it down for the insulting title to all women that belittles all victims of stalking. .Stalking is a terrible crime and it destroys lives.  It is victim blaming to suggest that anyone that reports a stalking is "mad".
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Release Date: December 28, 2021


Jane is surprised when her neighbor Megan hires her. She is even more surprised when she finds out why. As time goes on and the tangles become thicker, Jane becomes desperate to help solve the case. But will she make sense of it all in time?

This is the second book in the series and I am very excited about it! Janeis a compelling and wonderful character Helen, Phyllis, Irma and Harry are great support characters. The book had me up until 1230 in the morning because I simple couldn’t put it down. This was a wonderful, fun beach read and I can’t wait to read more Jane Darrowfield mysteries!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

#janedarrowfieldprofessionalbusybody #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #cozymysteryseries #netgalleyreads #barbaraross #janeandthemadwomannextdoor
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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwomen Next Door by Barbara Ross is the 2nd book in the Jane Darrowfield series, and another great addition. First of all I wanted to say I love Ms. Ross Maine Clambake Mystery Series, so I was anxious to read this series, and I have not been disappointed. Jane Darrowfield has been retired for a year, and had to find something to do. After Jane helped a friend with a personal problem, she became known in West Cambridge, Massachusetts as the go-to-person for discreet problems. Jane is hired by her next door neighbor to see if she is going crazy.  And than the neighbor disappears.  This book has more twists and turns, that kept me reading. The plot and characters are well developed, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I highly recommend this book/series if you enjoy cozy mysteries.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Jane meets her newest neighbor in the most unexpected way.  Megan comes over asking for Jane's help in figuring out if she is going crazy.  Megan has been experiencing lost time and unexplained voices for some time and needs to figure out what is causing these things.  Megan has a very expensive security system so she doesn't think anyone could have broken in but when she disappears it makes Jane wonder just how good the system really is.  Jane knows she must figure things out and wants to do everything she can to find the answers she seeks.  When she goes to feed Megan's cat she event finds him in a hidden panic room.  How did he get there?  Jane thinks that there must be more going on than she initially thought.  Follow along to see if Jane is able to put the pieces together and figure out what happened to Megan or will it all be left a mystery?
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Excellent book it is a mystery, romance and drama all rolled in one.  As the mystery unwinds we learn more about Jane and her past that has led  her to doing detective work .
I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
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Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody and Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door by Barbara Ross are the first and second books in the cozy Jane Darrowfield mystery series. As with most cozy mystery series each book in the Jane Darrowfield series will contain it’s own mystery to be solved within the book so they can all be read as a standalone or in any order if choosing to do so. There will be of course character development that carries over from book to book for those who follow the series from the beginning.

Like most Jane Darrowfield had been looking forward to her retirement and those golden years after working. However, in her first year after retirement Jane has already traveled, organized and planted a garden so now she wonders what next. After helping a friend with a personal problem Jane comes up with the idea to become a personal busybody, someone to go to when you need a hand with things that police or lawyers and such can’t help you out.

Word gets around about Jane’s new busybody persona and she is asked to come to a retirement community and help with some hostilities among the residents. However soon after arriving one of the residents is bludgeoned to death with a golf club and Jane finds herself looking for a murderer. After things are wrapped up at the golf club Jane takes on a new case with her neighbor, a young lawyer who feels as if she might be going crazy. As Jane is looking into all the events in the young woman’s life things take a drastic turn when she goes missing.

The Jane Darrowfield mystery series gained my interest by having an older protagonist in this one and I was happy to find I actually enjoyed getting to know Jane and her new “profession”. This series is another that I’d classify as quirky just due to the whole idea of a professional busybody and it definitely came with some laughs along the way so I really enjoyed the first two books of this series and will look forward to coming back to it in the future.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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Jane Darrowfield has business cards that proclaim her as a professional busybody and she’s very good at what she does.  These books are smart, funny, well-written, and entertaining.  The mysteries are solid, with Jane making educated decisions rather than haphazardly running into situations that put her in danger.  She is rational and diplomatic.  I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the next one.
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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door
by Barbara Ross
Pub Date 28 Dec 2021 
 Kensington Books,  Kensington
 Mystery & Thrillers

I am reviewing a copy of Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door through Kensington Books and Netgalley:

Megan who has moved in next door to Jane’s, needs help from Jane, her snooping neighbor.  Megan has been having blackouts, hearing voices—and feeling like someone’s following her. Are these symptoms of an illness
or signs that she’s in danger?

With all the security in Megan’s house e, it seems like she should be safe, yet soon Megan vanishes into thin air.  Some think she’s run away, but would this ambitious young lawyer on the partner track really miss a meeting with an important client? And where’s Megan’s cat?

The mystery only deepens when the cat is finally located in a hidden panic room and as Jane and the police look into Megan’s friends, family, and past, it may be time to sound the alarm.

I give Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman next door five out of five stars!
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Jane finds herself helping her neighbor figure out if she is crazy or not. What follows is an interesting mystery to figure out the truth, then the neighbor goes missing. Will Jane figure out what is going on? Several suspects and interesting connections make for a good story! Loved this second book in the series!
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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door is book #2 in the Jane Darrowfield Mystery series by Barbara Ross.

Jane Darrowfield is a retiree who has opened a business as a professional busybody.  She helps settle matters between neighbors that are too small for taking to the police.   Her next door neighbor, Megan, hires her.  She disappears and Jane feels guilty that she may have played a part in it.

This is the first book I’ve read in the series and I wasn’t sure what to expect based the title.   I really enjoyed this story. Jane is delightful and so is her gentleman friend, Harry.  The ladies in the bridge group care for her and provide humor.

I’ve already purchased the first book to catch up on the first book.

Thank you to the author, Kensington, and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) copy of this book and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
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Jane is a busybody and has a knack for helping people sort things out and that can lead her to solving mysteries. Being retired seemed to be enough but this new direction fits in very well. Her new mystery is brought to her by her next door neighbor, a 30 something lawyer with a chance at making partner. Megan is single, lives in a modern house and has a cat. Her reason for seeking out Jane's help is to find out if she is going crazy or is somebody gaslighting her. She hears voices, thinks she's being followed to name just a few strange happenings. Before Jane can sit down with her to discuss some ideas about the situation, Megan and her cat vanish. The cat is found but still no sign of Megan. It looks like foul play and Jane joins forces with the police to help sort out the puzzle of the vanishing lawyer.
I devoured the first in the series as well as the author's Maine Clambake series and my hope is that this series will have a long run. Spending time with Jane is a pleasure. She's 50+, divorced and retired with a sharp and organized mind. The mystery had me guessing to the very end - a real surprise there. I have set aside a spot on the must be read shelf for as many more of this series as Barbara Ross can write.
My thanks to the publisher Kensington and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Jane Darrowfield And The Madwoman Next Door is the second book in the Jane Darrowfield series by Barbara Ross.

Jane Darrowfield is a sixty-something retired woman.  Jane may be a busy body, but she is a busy body that I would love to know and be her friend.  

Jane’s next-door neighbor, Megan, asks Jane to help her find out if she is crazy.  Jane tells her that that is above her job description.  Megan, who has recently moved into her renovated house and since moving in, has been experiencing flashing lights, lost periods of time, thermostat settings being changed, garage door opening and closing at different times, and other disturbing things.  Megan explains that she doesn’t want to undergo a medical examination as she is up for a partner in the law firm where she works, and that would undoubtedly put an end to becoming a partnership.  After Megan shares her life story, Jane agrees to help.  

When Jane tries to contact Megan a day or two later, she cannot reach her.  Megan has shared her security codes with Jane, so Jane enters the house to see if Megan is alright. She finds that Megan has left in a rush along with her much-loved cat.  Jane calls Detective Alvarez, who Jane has worked with before, to report her missing.  He explains that the police need something more than Jane’s feeling that something has been kidnapped.  Jane starts looking for information that she can use to convince the police to look into Megan’s having gone missing.  Jane soon learns about digital gaslighting, where someone can hack into a resident’s security system.  Jane soon learns that Megan was relatively free with sharing her codes and has many suspects to investigate.

I’m really enjoying this new series, and I found this book more interesting than the first.  The book is well-written and plotted.  The story contains an enjoyable, well-developed, and believable cast of characters.  There were enough red herrings that kept guessing until the end of the book to the identity of the guilty person.

I’m looking forward to the next book in this entertaining series.
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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door is part of a cozy mystery series by Barbara Ross. Jane is a year or two into her retirement, and she’s already travelled and planted a garden. She's become known in West Cambridge, Massachusetts as the go-to person for situations that need discreet fixing. Some might refer to her as a professional busybody and she is hired by her next-door neighbour, Megan, a single mid-30s lawyer, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of several concerning and odd occurrences. Megan doesn’t know if she is imagining the strange happenings or if someone is harassing her so she asks Jane for her impartial and no-nonsense opinions, but then Megan disappears...

Jane has to race against time aided by Detective Alvarez to find Megan. I found Jane realistic, intuitive and immensely likeable and an excellent amateur sleuth. The narrative was smooth, the dialogue smart, and I was totally invested in the involved mystery. A fun and entertaining read.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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