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 Fiction Review   



The Problem With Murmur Lee
By Connie May Fowler
Doubleday, 2005
Hardcover, $21.95 (304 pages)
ISBN: 0-385-49981-7

Connie May Fowler has done it again. Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings, has a new book, and it's a dandy. It's titled The Problem With Murmur Lee. This book is aptly named because the protagonist, Murmur Lee Harp, truly does have a problem: She's dead. 

It seems Miss Harp fell overboard while taking a pleasure boat ride. But the question remains: Was her death an accident or was she killed? 

Murmur Lee's grief-stricken friends decide it's their duty to find out. After several years of living up North, Murmur Lee's best friend, Charlee Mudd, returns to set Mumur Lee's affairs in order, but also has to confront ghosts of her own past. 

Edith Piaf, a former Marine whose sex change at age 62 Murmur Lee supported, defends the reputation of his deceased friend against rumors that are starting to circulate. And her egotistical lover, William, is fighting emotional battles of his own in trying to come to grips with Murmur Lee's death. 

The rumors are Murmur Lee's own fault. After all, she's the one who told everyone she could interpret dreams. And she also told everyone she was having visions from God and could heal the sick. 

Murmur Lee's claims to of being able to heal prompted her pastor, Father Matthew Jaeger, to write Bishop Haywood F. Carroll. 

In his letter, Jaeger outlines several of the “miracles' he's seen: 

-- “... A single male, age 40, after having shown no interest in the many lovely young ladies in our flock, has promised to find a suitable Catholic woman of similar age to marry. 

-- “A 10-year-old boy ... informed his mother that he no longer needed his inhaler, and he hasn't suffered an asthma attack since.

He also wrote that the cathedral's janitor claimed the arthritis he'd suffered with for 12 years suddenly disappeared. And a childless couple that had been trying to have a baby for many years, suddenly learned the wife was pregnant.

So Murmur Lee's death has the townsfolk talking. 

In “The Problem With Murmur Lee”, Fowler has written one of the funniest albeit oddest books I've ever read. I don't know if I'd classify it as a true mystery, although it is part mystery. I wouldn't call it humor although it's filled with it. So I suppose I'll just have to say this was one book that was enjoyable to read and let it go from there. 

Oh, and the ending? You're probably going to be surprised. I know I was.


Kendall Bell
Southern Scribe Reviews


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