Posted on March 8, 2011 - by

Asking for Murder

Berkley Prime Crime
(September 2, 2008)
ISBN: 978-0425223314




When Rebecca’s friend and fellow therapist Annabelle Hart is found badly beaten and left for dead, Rebecca is determined to help search for answers. But this time, no one wants her help. Not Detective Meigs, who thinks the crime was either a botched robbery or the result of a relationship gone sour. And not Annabelle’s sister, who makes it clear that Rebecca isn’t welcome in family matters.

The only place where her opinion matters is the therapist’s couch. She’s agreed to see Annabelle’s patients, but it won’t be easy. Annabelle’s area of expertise is sandplay therapy, which Rebecca knows little about — yet with a would-be killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues are buried within easy reach.

Discussion questions for Asking for Murder:

  1. Mental health professionals are committed to protecting their patients’ privacy. Of course, there’s more pressure on confidentiality when a crime has been committed. How did you feel about the way Rebecca handled withholding/giving information to the police about her friend’s caseload?
  2. Rebecca mentions that the advice column sometimes acts as a Greek chorus, echoing the issues in her own life. How did you feel about the presence of the advice column in the book?
  3. Rebecca describes sandplay therapy as a nonverbal method of therapy that provides a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious. How did her reaction to this kind of treatment change over the course of the book? How about yours?
  4. Talk about the role that food and cooking plays in Rebecca’s life.
  5. Mystery writers struggle to play fair, showing enough of the villain through the story to leave readers feeling satisfied about their chances of solving the crime along with the protagonist. At what point did you guess correctly about the villain? What were the clues that allowed you to make this discovery? Did the author play fair?
  6. Where do you see the relationships with Rebecca and her ex and Detective Meigs headed?
  7. Rebecca finds an article on her friend’s desk called “On Treating the Hated and Hateful Patient.” How did you feel about her disclosure that therapists sometimes react negatively to their patients, just as other people in their lives might?

“The pacing is very good and the plotting is wonderful. Many screwy people, some nice folks, a few funny–and rueful–episodes, and several intertwined plot threads all work together beautifully, with a crisply woven climax that really works well, and ending with a sweet coda that ties up all the loose bits.”

— Abby Hamilton, Mystery News

I love the characters in this series, particularly that of Rebecca Butterman. Her character is strong, feisty and believable. I feel like I’m caught up in her life when I read these books and I always look forward to seeing what happens next.

— Victoria Kennedy, Midwest Book Review

There’s nothing quite as comforting as an entertaining crime mystery, that balances novel elements with tried and tested formulae. Asking for Murder is just such a book, featuring psychotherapist crime solver Rebecca Butterman.

ASKING FOR MURDER is Rebecca’s third foray into the realm of amateur sleuthing. She’s getting good at it, although her personal issues tend to get in her way sometimes. She continues to work on those issues, trying to become a better person and a better therapist. While the astute reader may suspect where the romantic arc of this series is going, given Isleib’s skills as a writer, one hesitates to bet a large sum on that possibility. It will be interesting and enjoyable to see how Rebecca’s life shakes out in the next book or two.

— Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, Reviewing the Evidence

Asking for Murder is the third in this very engaging series, one I’ve enjoyed from the start. Rececca is a great amateur sleuth, who is saved from being too saccharine by exhibiting both an “edge” and a self-deprecating sense of humor. It’s hard not to cheer her on. Roberta Isleib knows how to balance the needs of readers who look for both a strong mystery element and a glimpse into the life of the main character.

— Diana Vickery, The Cozy Library

Asking for Murder is good escapist reading, a charming and sometimes gritty mystery with an appealing protagonist who sleuths, cooks and psychoanalyzes.
— Marilyn Dahl, Shelf-Awareness

It’s springtime in Connecticut and psychotherapist Dr. Rebecca Butterman’s fancy has turned to hamburgers…and murder, in Asking for Murder, the best entry of this series to date.
— Jennifer Monahan Winberry, The Mystery Reader

An endearing and intelligent heroine. An original plot. A surprising ending. Red herrings galore. (And I fell for every one of them.) All in all, Roberta Iselib has concocted a completely satisfying mystery. It’s delicious, and not only because of the tantalizing recipes included. (I’m still thinking about chicken chili.) ASKING FOR MURDER is maybe the best ever from an author who only gets better.

— Hank Phillippi Ryan,

There’s a lot to like about Asking for Murder. I’m a research psychologist, not a clinical psychologist, so listening to the therapist-talk throughout the book was like having access to some secret shrink society. Rebecca has a thing about food (as do I), and as she talked her way through the culinary offerings she was preparing for herself and her friends, I was ready to dig in. I also liked the writing, the evocative descriptions and the sensibility. I even liked the mystery, which I guess was supposed to be the point.  Most of all, though, I loved how the author really got it about friendship and single life.
— Dr. Bella DePaulo, PsychologyToday blog

An admission: I don’t read mysteries. However, if more were like this one, I would be searching them out. “Asking For Murder” does open a door – to a large audience, including those in the psychology field, those not in the field who may want a closer look, to romance readers interested in something different, to readers looking for a light weekend or beach read, and to anyone who enjoys spunky fallible female lead characters.
— LK Hunsaker, Sandplay Voices

Roberta Isleib’s new novel Asking for Murder is a unique mix of murder mystery and psychological exploration. The characters are believable, likeable, and easy to relate to. The prose flows well and the dialogue is intelligent. I couldn’t put this book down.
— Jennifer Melville, Story Circle Book Reviews


We'd love to hear yours!

Leave a Reply

Here's your chance to speak.

  1. Name (required)

    Mail (required)