Ever wonder who would attend your funeral? Newly deceased Molly Marx gets to see that and more as she tries to decipher her past mistakes in life and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death. One minute, she was taking a bike ride on the west side of Manhattan; the next, she arrived here. “Here” is what is referred to as “The Duration,” and to Molly it “looks and feels like an upscale fitness resort…a sunny solarium. Leaded glass windows overlook a lush park webbed with cobblestone paths where people of all ages are walking briskly as if they have places to go.” As her newly appointed guide, Bob, informs her, this is where she’ll be until she “relocates.”
Until then, she possesses the power to look down on her loved ones and see how they are coping without her. Annabel, her sweet four-year-old daughter, is too young to fully grasp the scope of a mother’s loss. There’s Barry, Molly’s plastic surgeon husband, whose roving eye has always been a bone of contention. Her parents and twin sister Lucy are devastated but trying to go on for Annabel’s sake. And then there’s poor, dear Luke Delaney, a former lover whom she never really got over.
Since the details of Molly’s death are sketchy, no one is sure if it was an accident, a suicide, or possibly even murder. Detective Hiawatha Hicks (he gets a lot of grief over that name) tries to deduce exactly what happened on the bike path that rainy day. Was her husband having an affair and perhaps wanted to be rid of his wife? Could Luke have been enraged when Molly ended things between them, and could that rage make him do something horrible to her? What about her best friend Brie? Does she have something to hide? Could it have been a random stranger? Molly watches her family and friends with rapt eagerness trying to piece together her last few moments on Earth, but also reflects back on key incidents in her life that might have brought her to this point.
Author Sally Koslow has the difficult task of making a commercial novel about a woman’s mysterious death and afterlife not morbid and depressing. It’s not THE LOVELY BONES, but more in the vein of BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY --- if Bridget Jones had unexpectedly expired and was allowed to look down on family and friends afterwards, making wry comments. Inasmuch as we relate to and sympathize with Molly’s regrets about her life, we get to see the highs as well as the lows --- the loves, the birth of a daughter, the precious time spent with family and friends. There’s also a mystery at hand: How did Molly die? Who’s responsible, if anyone, or was it just a horrible accident?
Although the flitting between genres is somewhat jarring at first, once the story draws you in, readers will find themselves racing to the end, along with Detective Hicks, to find out exactly what happened to the late, lamented Molly Marx.
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on May 19, 2009
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx