Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen

The Mutual Admiration Society
by Lesley Kagen

Lake Union

Eleven year old Tessie Finley has quite enough to cope with for her age. Her attractive, widowed mother lives in a permanent state of impatience with Tessie and her kid sister “Birdie.”

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“. . . heartwarming, tragic, funny and so very human.”

Mom sees them as millstones around her neck – especially when it comes to attracting a new husband. Birdie was born prematurely and is subject to sudden fits of irrational and sometimes downright creepy behavior. Tessie looks out for her, although the kid drives her to fond despair. Both girls miss their father, lost presumed drowned in a boating accident. His empty plot in the cemetery behind their house is their favorite place in the whole world. He founded the Mutual Admiration Society consisting of himself and his daughters, and Tessie keeps it going in his memory.

Tessie’s favorite book is a private detective manual which gives her all kinds of tips on how to spy on people. She sees it as a way of raising money so she and Birdie can find a new life away from their staunchly Catholic community and especially their evil neighbor, Gert Klement, who wants to send both girls to “homes.” When Tessie sees a man carrying a body through the cemetery one night, her instincts are roused, and she sets out to investigate. What follows is a convoluted dance to solve the mystery while dodging their hard-boiled mom, Gert Klement, the local gossips – and the suspected murderer himself. 

Fifties small town America comes to life in The Mutual Admiration Society. Lesley Kagen has created a tale that by turns is heartwarming, tragic, funny and so very human.

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews