Cover Image: The Self-Made Widow

The Self-Made Widow

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Very interesting book. I enjoyed it. Thank you to the author and publisher for my copy in exchange for a review.
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This book is the second in the Suburban Dicks mystery series. I read the first book, Suburban Dicks, after I was selected to review this second book in the series. The first book in this series was great, but this book was even better. I really have come to enjoy the characters as they are not perfect, yet they have the talent to solve mysteries that seem impossible to solve. Andie is a mother of five children in suburban New Jersey, where the rich like to play and keep secrets from one another. Kenny Lee is a reporter who after redeeming himself, is struggling to find his place in the world. When another mystery comes up, Andie reaches out to Kenny to help her solve the death of her friend’s husband. It appears that he died of natural causes, but Andie cannot let the feeling go that something isn’t quite right about the whole situation.

I felt like this book was better than the first. I am not sure if it is because I really came to enjoy the characters in the first book, or what, but I couldn’t put this book down. This book hits closer to home as it involves one of Andie’s only friends in her small town. She has suspicions but it seems that her friends are also hiding secrets and she doesn’t know who to trust, including her own husband. She can’t seem to let the feeling go that something is wrong and she is determined to find out what is going on even at the cost of her own family.

The character development in this book was phenomenal and the ending leaves the reader with a cliff-hanger. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment as I need to see how everything plays out. The author has done a great job of creating a modern day mystery series that is simply engaging and thrilling from the very first page. If you can get a copy of this book or the first book in the series, I highly recommend that you do as you will not be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars
Author: Fabian Nicieza

Series: Suburban Dicks Mystery #2

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Pages: 400

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
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Andrea Stern, presently a suburban New Jersey housewife who is generally seen carting at least her newest child JoJo around, knows that her friend Molly Goode killed her husband Derek.  Despite her extraordinary skills as an investigator and profiler, developed in the first entry in this series, Andrea is stymied.  She brings in her friend Kenny and his colleagues who are working on a Netflix documentary, "Suburban Secrets," that includes interviews with Andrea.  Andrea's friend Sathwika, also a recent mother, assists as well.  And in the course of investigating her friend, things get personal in ways Andrea, despite her skills, did not anticipate.  This is a sometimes fun, interestingly plotted mystery.  It was a little slow at the beginning but it stayed with me and I plan to go back to read the first book.  Recommend.
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Fabian Nicieza returns to West Windsor in the sequel to Suburban Dicks with The Self-Made Widow. When Derek Goode drops dead of an apparent heart attack, Andie Stern goes to the side of his wife Molly. Molly is a fellow member of the "cellulitists" (with debate over the proper pronunciation of her invented nickname) who is always unflappable, even in the face of her husband's death. Andie's dispassionate eye is suspicious of Molly's demeanor. Kenny Lee, the journalist who worked with Molly on the previous case gets a call accusing Molly of murder and both Andie and Kenny's suspicions go on high alert. The coroner concludes that the death was due to a preexisting heart condition so Andie and Kenny are going to have to do some digging to find the truth. 
Andie has a first-rate mind and her destiny as an FBI profiler went off the rails with her first pregnancy. It is fascinating to watch her pull at threads and construct theories. What casts a little bit of a pall over the book is that Andie, along with Kenny and most of the other characters in the book, are very unhappy people. Even achieving some of the successes they think they want doesn't fill that void. One bright spot is Andie's relationship with her older daughter. Andie is learning to trust her more and her daughter in turn sees a side of her mother that she didn't really know.

The Self-Made Widow has plenty of humor, some brilliant deductions, and some dogged detecting. The ending in particular sets the stage for some significant character growth. I'll be looking forward to where this series goes next.
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I was a huge fan of Suburban Dicks! Love the two main characters, Andie and her side kick Kenny. Their banter was hilarious, and the way Andie solved the murder with all her little children constantly hanging off her made me laugh.  An easy 5 star read!

Unfortunately, the 2nd installment of this story, The Self-Made Widow, didn't have the same feel as the first book.  

Andie wasn't nearly the strong-willed smart-ass she was in book 1.  There were times where her character did shine through, but I think it got lost in the mystery and because there were so many other characters that this story focused on.  She was what 'made it' for me the first time around so her character in book 2 was a real let down for me, personally. 

Kenny also was very different, and he spent so much time internalizing his budding relationship.  It really took focus off the story, and I didn't prefer it. 

The actual storyline was just ok.  By the end of the book, I found that I didn't like many of the characters, including the ones I was supposed to like.  A bit disheartening actually.

I 100% recommend Book 1 to all readers who like murder mysteries and snarky characters.  Book 2 was just ok for me. If there is a book 3, I will definitely read it to see if Andie kicks back into high gear.
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This just was not for me. I can appreciate that it’s well written but the story itself just did not compel me like I anticipated it would.
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I didn't realize this was a sequel when I requested the ARC. There is plenty of backstory so I felt like I was able to grasp the gist of the first book but I wish I had read it before this one. I felt like I was missing some of the connections between characters and maybe how solving the previous crime affected/influenced the main character. 

This was a fun and unique mystery read and it was great to get me out of what felt like a reading rut. It's fast paced with a bunch of plots, characters, etc. interacting at once. I also enjoyed the little glimpses of dark humor throughout.

3.5 stars.
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Andrea (Andie) Stern is a former FBI profiler and devastatingly intelligent.  She’s also the mother of five.  But that doesn’t stop her from investigating a potential murder that no one seems to believe happened.  The only person in her corner is Kenny Lee, a friend since childhood and now a well-known journalist.  With her youngest child in tow (JoJo is a pure delight), Andie and Kenny set out to unmask a killer.

The Self-Made Widow is author Fabian Nicieza’s second book featuring this unlikely duo.  It is well-written, funny, and, at times thoughtful, as Andie contemplates her future and what she has been missing.  The chemistry between Andie and Kenny is complicated and not always predictable.  However, in my opinion, one of the best characters is Andie’s friend, Sathwika.  She is a voice of reason, and her perspective and calming nature often helps Andie focus.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Self-Made Widow and I’m looking forward to the next book.  

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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In the second book in the Suburban Dicks series, Andrea finds herself questioning the death of her friends husband, even though he had a heart condition, could it possibly be murder? Molly is always put together, but could you possibly be this put together after Derek suffered a fatal heart attack or is she hiding something.  Joining forces once again, with reporter, Kenny Lee, and her middle school daughter, Ruth, Andrea is bound and determined to find out.  Molly’s closest friends all seem to have secrets, some that might help Andrea get the answers she seeks, but will the answers be too close to home for comfort?  I really enjoyed this book, but think I would have liked it more if I had the first book in the series.  There is a very large cast of characters that might have been easier to keep track of if I had already been introduced to them.  That being said, it can still be read as a stand alone, but I would suggest reading them in order.
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The Beach Trap is a fun and light read even though it deals with some weighty issues. The plot is a bit predictable, however That didn’t bother me at all. I enjoyed the characters and setting.

** I received an electronic ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book.
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Real Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

First off, I need to start off by stating that I have not read the first book in this series. I didn’t realize until after I had gotten the book that it was the second in a series, but I was so intrigued I decided to go ahead and read it anyway. It proved not to be an issue, as it seemed the plot from the first book didn’t seem to overly affect the plot of this book; at least not enough to curtail my enjoyment of it. 

Make no mistake, despite the 3.5 star rating I gave this book, that’s not because I didn’t enjoy the book. There are aspects of the book that did affect my enjoyment to some degree (as in I would have enjoyed it more if this aspect of the book had been done better or if this part had been left out), but overall I did find the book to be an engaging and humorous read. In a way, this was like if you took any of the female BAU agents from “Criminal Minds”, but had them decide not to join the FBI, and then plop them into suburbia and make a satirical mystery book series out of the bug for solving crimes and studying behavior they just can’t shake. Does that make any sense? It does to me. But, then again, I keep crime procedurals on for background noise all day and night. 

Things I loved: The suburban setting and how it affects families in different ways. Suburbs have never been a solution: they have always been a problem. They were a white privilege answer to a racist and classist issue. They didn’t see it that way, of course, but that’s what it was. And all it earned them was an urge to keep up with the neighbors, to encourage cultural hegemony, and to turn them all into people who were too busy trying to earn money to afford to keep living in suburbia they spent more time at work and commuting than at home with the family and house they worked so hard to have. This theme plays a huge part in the book for every couple involved. I also loved how Nicieza never magically made it so the children in this book were magically transported off somewhere else when things needed to be taken care of: In real life, it’s not like you can just drop off your baby every time you want to go to lunch. The baby comes with you, whether you want her to or not. So does the diaper bag and the car seat. It’s a fact of life. And sometimes babies poop in public places and spit up on your friend’s shirts. Welcome to parenthood. I also loved the dry wit and acerbic personality of Andie, our main character. Her background is interesting as heck, and I don’t know if they cover more of it in the first book, but if they don’t I hope they cover more of it in a future book, because I’d love to see and hear more. 

Things I didn’t like: The constant switching of POVs and the characters of Kenny and Sitara. The problem I had with the POV switching is that it was done clumsily. It was done with no grace. It was almost a stumble every time and it made me sigh every time it happened. I found Sitara both patronizing and too tolerant at the same time, and it made me feel like she was far too spineless for her role in the story. And what can I say about Kenny besides going off on a complete tirade on how utterly annoying I found him? There’s literally nothing I like about his character. If you want me to talk about the thing I liked the least about this book, I can tell you emphatically it’s Kenny. The man needs help. 

Overall, it was a decent job. Could’ve been better, could’ve been worse. I’m eager to see if there will be a follow-up. Hopefully with less Kenny. 

Thanks to NetGalley and G. P. Putnam’s Sons for granting me early access to this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I love this author, this is my first book by him and everything about this book had me laughing, add a murder mystery to it and I was SOLD! The opening of this book, when Andrea comes into the scene??? From then on I knew I was going to love this book. Aside from that and being a former profiler, I see that Andrea holds a lot of resentment for the decisions that she had made that had brought her to where she is right now, a mom and that’s it. She wishes she had followed her dreams harder instead of just settling being just a mom and a wife, but I also love her sense of humor, and the characters as well. It was a very enjoyable read. I wish this was a movie it will be perfect.
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Surprisingly good the 2nd time around.

⏰ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Andie Stern is back, this time eyeing a mystery even closer to home - the sudden death of a friend’s husband. Everyone writes it off as natural causes, but uh-uh, not Andie. But just HOW close to home will this one get? And is Andie prepared for how much she stands to lose?

💡𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: I enjoyed Dicks the first time, but I must say that a second round of good Dicks was what the summer ordered (it doesn’t count when you’re on vacation). But mostly I loved the facts I just got to say “Dicks” so many times in my review (and yes, autocorrect I am STILL sure that should not be DUCKS!!) 

I literally JUST reviewed another book where I stated I wanted to see a novel where “Karens” earn their comeuppance. Enter the Self-Made Widow!! With his token brand of dry sarcasm and subtle sass (I speak this fluently), Nicieza spins a tale too crazy to predict and too riveting to put down. The first 1/2 of the novel is a bit slower - an unhurried unveiling of mystery tidbits like a mama bird feeding its babies, but after 70%? It felt like a Hungry Hungry Hippo frenzy of good ol’ ca-razy! 

I loved his first novel and Nicieza is finding his stride in this follow-up by delving into Andie’s personal life (which I wanted more of in novel 1!) and answering the questions that left me hanging from the first story. Andie is the gem - a REAL protagonist with some junk in the trunk after five kids, juggling it all, trying to find her relevance and live her best life - so relatable to so many, and she’s brilliant. Nothing better than a capable, well-written, female protagonist for me! Also loved Sathwika, the trusty side-kick in this one, who is shaping up to prove pivotal in novel 3 (oh yes, I will be needing more Dicks. Not enough Dicks)! 

Kenny Lee is my one “meh” as he returned this novel to mostly prove irrelevant, but I don’t think I’m supposed to like him. He’s the pest of a character that won’t go away, but in the end he plays a nice foil to Andie. 

𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝗺𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄𝘀 𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗦𝗰𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆𝗠𝗮𝗴𝘀.𝗰𝗼𝗺 𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻.

📚𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Mystery with a dash of sarcasm

😍𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: Def read if you liked the first or you’re a mystery reader wanting something different.

🙅‍♀️ 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: If sarcasm and blunt honesty isn’t your thing.

Thank you to the author, NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam/G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my always-honest review and for making me write my favorite review so far this year.
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Don’t know how the  first book made it past me but I am now going back to read it. This book can definitely stand alone but I picked up on some things that make me really want to read the first. Thank you to NetGalley and GP Putnam Son’s for the DRC in exchange for an honest review. Great characters that I look forward to meeting up with, hopefully, in a third book.
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I was so happy when I finished Suburban Dicks and found out there was going to be a sequel! 

The Self-Made Widow really shakes things up for Andie and Kenny. Andie, now a mother of five, is finally taking the reins back and making strides to do things that make her happy, i.e. crime solving. Kenny is, of course, unhappy even with all the success his book deal, news appearances, and Netflix documentary have brought him. 

I loved the the author dove more into both these characters backgrounds. It felt like they were so briefly touched on, especially Andie's dealings as a child prodigy in some weird Fagan-esque kid gang. It felt like these were left out of the first book, and I really liked that we got to circle back to them in book two.

The plot of this book I thought was much slower than the first one. Suburban Dicks had a real hook at the gas station when Andie pulled up and her kid peed on the crime scene. In The Self-made Widow, it felt like Andie was just pulling strings for the most part. Maybe one too many "Why doesn't anyone else see what I see" scenes for me. It was a slow unraveling compared to the fast unraveling of book one so I just felt like the pacing wasn't consistent. Maybe because I read them so close together, I really felt that.

Andie's friends. (Frenemies?) The Cellulitists. Ugh. I felt like this book did them dirty. Those ladies really stepped up in Suburban Dicks when Andie really needed help. She thought they were airheaded Ladies Who Lunch who were convenient babysitters and then, turns out, they too had Real Lives before marriage and babies. Jobs were they were smart powerful women. And then this book went and subverted all that growth. Molly becoming an evil mastermind is one thing. But throwing Andie's almost-bestie Brianne under the bus, not something I saw coming or was really happy with. Like, yes, Andie was kind of using her friends, but I thought she made a ton of progress with them. 

Martin. Oh, Martin. The nebbish little husband who never says a word. His diatribe during the confrontation has to have been the highlight of this book. It had me rolling! The soaps!! And then when Brianne leans over and asks if he would prefer Rosemary.... I died!

The ending. OK, after the hilarious way book one ended, I knew something poignant  was going to happen. That last sentence was what I have been waiting the last two freaking books for Andie to say! Yes, girl!!

I'll be patiently waiting for book three where Andie and Sathwika go into business together. Dream team, love those two. Kenny can keep being an idiot for all I care, this is The Andie Show.

Fabian, I saw you with your little Aviation Gin shout out for Ryan Reynolds! A little shameless product placement never hurt nobody :) 

Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Putnam, and Fabian Nicieza for an eARC in exchange for a review.
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Happy pub week to The Self-Made Widow!!

The Self-Made Widow is the follow-up novel to Suburban Dicks (reviewed late last year) and continues following Andie and Ken, as they navigate life, work, parenting, crime, and suburban living.

This was an incredible second novel for the series! I was very excited to learn more about Andie and Ken and was not disappointed.

I loved how this novel focused on the “how” and “why” of a recent murder, not the “who”. Which is pretty unique for crime fiction. I also loved Andie’s ever-growing independence and soul searching; she’s finally realized what she wants and is ready to go over after it! The last line of the book 💯 I also love her parenting style and can totally relate 😅

I enjoyed the humor, irony, and sarcasm sprinkled throughout the novel. The author has an impactful way of weaving satire and social commentary throughout, while also focusing on the main characters solving a murder.

I seriously cannot wait to read what happens next in this series!

Thank you @putnambooks and @netgalley for the gifted copy!
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This one comes out tomorrow and as I am reading the first few chapters this one grabs you right at the beginning. Also I mean the title makes you curious right lol.

This is set after the Suburban Dicks with the same cast of characters except now there is another murder which appears to be natural causes cause they had a heart condition but they are only 40, cue terror for me in my early 40's, but it doesn't seem quite right.

I just love, as a mom, how Andrea, the former FBI profiler now very close to PI, takes her kids with her to investigate matters. Life doesn't stop when you become a mom and they are very helpful in buttering people up or making them uncomfortable, lol.

I love a good mystery and how some people are so good at covering their tracks. But all it takes is one weak link or a loose thread and everything unravels right when they thought they were about to get away with it.

Btw I love all the people that were blaming Andrea for ruining their lives cause she uncovered the truth. Um sorry you have to actually accept the consequences of your actions. She did not make you do any of those things. Listening to how belligerent people are irl I can totally see people doing this.

Tip of the day from Andrea Stern:  Remember to cut out those toxic people out of your life albeit by handcuffs or a heart to heart. 

Thank you putnambooks and netgalley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.
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(ARC from NetGalley) Honestly, biggest issue I had was that I had no idea this was a sequel . It didn’t really affect the plot, but I missed some character connections. I think you’d like this is you’re a fan or Finlay Donovan (aka suburban crime). Genuinely funny while tackling some harder issues about classism.
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Welcome back to West Windsor, New Jersey location of Fabian Niccueza's delightful Suburban Dicks.  In this sequel, we are reunited with Suburban Mom/former profiler Andie Stern and reporter Kenny Lee.

Our murder victim is Derek Goode, his wife Molly is a friend of Andie's, part of her mom group.  Molly is not acting like a grieving widow.  Our two characters once again join forces to solve the crime.

The author writes great dialog, and delves into relationships between friends and spouses.  This can be read as a stand alone, but to truly appreciate Andie and Kenny as characters I would recommend reading the first book.  I look forward to the next book.

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC.  The review is my own.
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The delightful suburban comedy/mystery The Self-Made Widow begins with Part One “Only The Goode Dies Young” in which lawyer Derek Goode, husband and father, dies in his sleep. Did he die of a preexisting heart condition? Or was he helped by his wife, the beautiful, stylishly dressed and compulsively organized Molly whom Derek thinks of as “cold as ice, but hot as hell”?

Andrea Stern suspects he was helped. Andrea’s career track as an FBI profiler was derailed by the birth of her oldest daughter. Now somewhat unhappily married to Jeff and mother to five children under 11, she is both frustrated and bored with life outside of Queens. She turns her laser focus (somewhat limited by child rearing constraints) to what she considers to be a murder. Helped by a reporter for the local weekly, Kenny Lee, whose once high flying newspaper career has crashed and burned, Andrea uncovers a complicated, twisted plot that hits uncomfortably close to home.

Fabian Nicieza showcases his skills as a graphic novelist (X-Men) and screenwriter (Deadpool) in The Self-Made Widow. This mystery reads like someone turned a switch on in your head and you see the characters and locations live and in color. Please make this a series! Netflix, are you listening? The Self-Made Widow concludes with so many ideas for the next in the series. And true confession: as as soon as I finished this ARC, I bought Suburban Dicks, the first Andrea Stern mystery. It’s just as good! 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, PENGUIN GROUP Putnam and Fabian Nicieza for this ARC.
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