Fairway to Heaven
by Roberta Isleib
Teacher’s Comments: It’s a mystery about a female golfer that can be enjoyed by men, non-golfers and people who aren’t usually mystery fans.
Out just in time for the US Open, Robert Isleib’s new mystery finds Cassie Burdette arriving in Pinehurst, North Carolina to get buried in a sandtrap of murder, kidnapping and extortion.
Of course, she doesn’t start out trying to solve a mystery. The conflicted LPGA heroine actually is there to play in a golf tournament with her estranged father—an aspiring Champions Tour pro—and her PGA Tour on-again-off-again boyfriend. At the same time, Cassie’s agreed to be the maid of honor in a nearby country club wedding.
Given Cassie’s complex relationship issues, and her stuggle to find her game, she doesn’t need any more trouble. But like Jessica Fletcher in “Murder She Wrote,” mayhem follows Cassie Burdette wherever she goes: the father of the bride-to-be is kidnapped and Cassie is forced to investigate.
Like the other books in the series, Fairway to Heaven works on several levels. As a character study, it’s pretty interesting. Cassie is complex and realistic: She’s troubled without being disturbing; feminine without being “girly” (her reactions to the bizarre wedding plans are very funny). If it were simply a “chick novel”, it would still have an audience. ( not me, though )
Isleib’s descriptions of the games of the idle rich make it work on another level. If you just extracted the wedding escapades, it would be a good comedy.
But of course, it’s a mystery. And at that, it’s also very good. It’s got an intriguing plot that would actually work even if there were no golf at all (is there a sub-genre for wedding mysteries? I don’t want to know.).
The glue that holds it all together (and the reason its being reviewd here, of course) is the golf.
Which leads me to my final thought. The title, “Fairway To Heaven” offers a nice tie-in to the US Open at Pinehurst and its most famous champion: the late Payne Stewart. It may be coincidence, but I think Isleib is too good a writer for it to be unintentional.