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'Desperate Housewives' meets 'CSI' in Jennifer Weiner novel

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Jennifer Weiner

371 pages, Simon & Schuster, $26

Something is wrong in Upchurch, Conn.

Kate Klein feels like an outcast around the suburban mommies of perfection on the town playground. They're super fit; she's not. They're always perfectly put together; she's often in sweats with her hair haphazardly pulled back. She has three small children! Who has the time?

In Jennifer Weiner's fourth novel, "Goodnight Nobody," Kate seems to be the only mommy who mirrors the messiness that life can be for stay-at-home moms. Compare her to Lynette Scavo on "Desperate Housewives," and picture the other women as Bree Van De Kamp, then throw in a little Stepford.

Imagine Kate's surprise when Kitty Cavanaugh, leader of the mommy pack, calls her with a lunch invitation and a cryptic "I think we have a friend in common." Kate shows up, kids in tow, to find Kitty's door wide open and Kitty's body face down in the kitchen, a knife in her back.

Kate, once a New York City girl, finds herself living in suburbia after an incident of stroller-jacking. It's certainly not the life she'd planned for herself, she reminds us frequently. But after getting married, having a daughter and then twin boys, her husband decides Connecticut is safer. Until Kitty's murder, that is.

Kate sets about investigating the death and comes across some surprising clues, answers and chinks in a lot of armor.

Mystery is a departure for Weiner, but she works it well. "Goodnight Nobody" is still utter Weiner. She wraps her usual writing style around this novel about secrets and shows readers that something entirely imperfect usually lies beneath the appearance of perfection.

It seems Weiner always surprises readers because they never know quite what her novels will be about until they turn the pages. She doesn't seem to have a specific formula for her stories, and although her lead characters are similar, they're by no means indistinguishable.

(C) 2005 Richmond Times-Dispatch. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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