In Andrea Sisco’s debut novel, A Deadly Habit, Penelope Santucci is a probation officer with a penchant for trouble. She can’t seem to help it; trouble just finds Pen, no matter where she is. As a child Pen, the product of a Protestant Italian home in a neighborhood of Polish Catholics, always fantasized about becoming a Catholic nun. Pen would dress in bed sheets and roller skate to the local parish, where she would enter the confessional of Father Kopecky, where she would claim outrageous sins that only an 8 year old can imagine. Fast-forward 19 years, and sure enough, Pen is once again in Father Kopecky’s confessional. But this time she’s confessing about a murder, one she didn’t commit, but knows she’ll be the police’s prime suspect.
Penelope manages to convince Father Kopecky and a nun to help her to clear her name. Along the way, she snags herself a handsome, hunky attorney who tries valiantly to keep her out of trouble. Can Penelope clear her name, solve the murder, stop the murderous thugs who think she has their money and still avoid returning her mom’s calls?
It’s almost impossible not to love Penelope Santucci. She’s just so…well…
He poured coffee from a old, chipped pot. “You haven’t changed Penelo… Pen.”
Reaching for the cup he offered, I said, “No, I always wanted to be blond, tall and willowy, but five-two is a stretch and I guess I’m destined to be a brunette who’s on the cuddly side of perfect.”
How can you not just love a woman like that…the cuddly side of perfect….*giggle….
And even better, when confronted with a tall, thin, snooty woman claiming to be having an affair with Pen’s soon to be ex, she handles the confrontation with her typical grace and aplomb.
…Instead I stood tall, at least as tall as I could muster given my vertically challenged status, threw my shoulders back, and showed my large, full, perky bosoms. We looked like two little boys playing “mine’s bigger than yours.”
The oddest thing about this book is that apparently Pen and I are sisters. I don’t remember having a sister named Pen growing up, but we seem to have the same mom. (Mom, if you read this, I’m just kidding….really…)
When trying to convince her sister to help her with a particularly sticky situation, Pen resorts to the mom threat to compel her assistance.
The you’ll-have-to-be-responsible-for-Ma threat worked. Germaine loved Ma but she’d face the devil himself in order to avoid frequent and long periods of contact with her.(Mom…don’t call…I’m just joking…really…..love you mom…)
Okay..I’ll stop with the quoting already. But it’s hard to, the book is chock full of some pretty funny stuff. Andrea Sisco is off to a great start, the plot was just different enough to stand out, the characters are this side of wacky, lovable, funny and human, and if occasionally, the dialogue feels just a wee little bit stilted, that’s okay. This is a debut novel by an author that occasionally strives for fluidity. And as her writing proceeds, I’m certain that this talented writer will find her skills refined and polished. I’m looking forward to many more novels by Andrea Sisco.
(Review copy provided by the author.)