Book Review: Lisa Bork’s For Better, For Murder

Posted September 29, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

Book Review: Lisa Bork’s For Better, For Murder

For Better, For Murder


Lisa Bork

cozy mystery in Paperback edition that was published by Midnight Ink on September 8, 2009 and has 288 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include For Richer, For Danger, In Sickness and in Death, To Love and to Perish

First in the Broken Vows mystery series, this story is set in Wachobe, a small tourist town in the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York and revolves around Jolene Asdale, a dealer in specialty cars.

My Take

I enjoyed the story in general. Bork has created a very homey town with an interesting cast of characters…a full range of personalities from the decent to the nicely self-serving to the outright villainous.

One of my quibbles with For Better, For Murder is Jo’s stupidity: she won’t change the locks on her apartment despite the danger it represents from her sister’s companions, she’s kept the same alarm code that her dad used…duh…! Nor does she change it after the murder…major duh! Yeah, I know she’s worried about her landlord, but life and death here??!! Her business is very close to bankruptcy and yet she skips paying the insurance besides hiding her sister’s whereabouts and murder weapons from Ray. The big one is in her past when she dumps Ray in a fit of pique without giving him a chance or herself to think and is too prideful to give him [or her] a chance now.

Then there’s the contrived bits: the kitchen scene where Erica and her escapee friends have obviously been, which Jo and Ray gloss over, and Jo’s reasons for hiding all the evidence from Ray. Bork needs to work on this. Yeah, I know it’s not easy but the story would have been improved for it.

It has the spirit and homey qualities of Davidson’s Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery, Sefton’s Knitting Mysteries, and Page’s Faith Fairchild with a fluffy feel and not much depth, making it a fun, easy read. I just wish her primary character, Jo, wasn’t so stupid at times.

I am looking forward to reading For Richer, For Danger, 2, if only to find out how Jo deals with her Christmas gift from Erica…it certainly promises to be interesting after Ray’s rebuttal!

The Story

Proudly showing off the 2006 Rosso Corsa Spider she’s found for Mr. Hughes, a local grocery magnate, Jo swings open the car door only to watch in horror as an ex-boyfriend flops out of the seat. Murdered.

That’s only the start of a tragi-comedy of errors as Jo attempts to find out who killed Tim, why she’s finding part of the murder weapon and thousands of dollars hidden all over her house, where Erica has escaped to [and if she’s involved in the string of robberies], retrieving the stolen DeLorean, and coping with the sudden knowledge of Ray’s involvement with a gorgeous blonde — and the ring he’s given her!

She doesn’t trust Ray to believe in her innocence, and she’s so terrified of jail that she’ll risk anything to solve the case and rescue her wacky sister.

The Characters

Jolene “Jo” Asdale is the responsible yet naive member of the Asdale family and has turned her dad’s garage into an elite car showroom catering to the wealthy looking for specialty cars such as a F430 Ferrari Spider or the 2006 Rosso Corsa Spider in which the dead body is found. She’s also a bit of a flake who can’t make up her mind nor can she push forward in her not-quite-marriage-or-divorce from Ray Parker.

Ray Parker is the local cop, Jo’s almost-ex, hunk of a husband, who continually comes to Jo’s rescue whether it’s mice in the house or her manic-depressive sister needing help. He keeps trying to move on but…

Cory Kempe is Jo’s gay mechanic with a magic costume change for the times Jo has to rush out.

Erica Asdale is Jo’s bipolar sister who spends more time at the sanitorium than she does on the outside. Very irresponsible and unconcerned with consequences, I suspect Erica has some hidden depths after her comments about her conversations with their deceased mother and her amazing insight into Jo.

Isabelle is Jo’s best female friend. Sam Greene is the fellow sociopath inmate with whom Erica has an on-again, off-again relationship. Greg Doran is Jo’s attorney while Catherine Thomas is an attorney who is dating Ray. Brennan Rowe is a hunk of a contractor who has done quite well for himself. Well enough that he has a nice garage full of even nicer cars. And, he’s gay.

The Cover and Title

The cover is pretty funny and very true. A sweet, figured, yellow wallpaper is the background with an askew “wedding photo” depicting the top of a wedding cake, bridal couple and all…with a sharp chef’s knife thrust between that loving couple for this story is indeed For Better, For Murder.