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Saturday, July 22, 2017

REVIEW, AUTHOR Q&A & EXCERPT: Weave a Murderous Web by Anne Rothman-Hicks & Ken Hicks @kenhicksnyc @melangebooks

Weave a Murderous Web
by Anne Rothman-Hicks & Ken Hicks
Melange Books

Thank you to the authors for this copy in return for my honest review. 

Scroll below for a synopsis, my review, an author Q&A and an excerpt from this legal mystery! 

And seriously guys and gals, if nothing else, please do read the Author Q&A, I laughed out loud to quite a few parts.  They feel like my family!

Weave A Murderous Web is a mystery novel by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks. It is one of three books in the Jane Larson series, published by Melange Books.


No good deed goes unpunished. When Jane Larson—a hot-shot litigator for a large firm in New York City—helps out a friend, she is sucked into the unfamiliar world of divorce and child support. 

Jane's discovery of the deadbeat dads hidden assets soon unravels a web of lies, drugs, and murder that keeps getting more dangerous. 

Soon, Jane is involved in a high stakes race to recover a missing suitcase of cash and catch the murderer before she becomes the next victim.


“A sleuthing lawyer returns to the streets of New York in this mystery of drugs, murder, and financial skullduggery… the husband-wife team of Rothman-Hicks and Hicks has again produced a fast-paced, engaging story… overall, this is a satisfying read. An enjoyable romp involving a shady attorney and the mob that should make readers look forward to the next Jane Larson caper.” Kirkus

“The action is breathtaking and the writing beautiful. Weave a Murderous Web: A Jane Larson Novel is a story that reminds me of the characters of John Grisham’s Gray Mountain… Jane Larson is the kind of character that will be loved by many readers… The plot is well thought out and masterfully executed, laced with numerous surprises to keep readers turning the pages. This is one of those books that should occupy an enviable place in your shelf if you are into fast-paced thrillers and compelling investigative stories.” - 5 Stars, Ruffina Oserio, Readers’ Favorite

“MURDEROUS WEB is a classic whodunit with classic New York City characters.” - Gimme That Book

 "Weave a Murderous Web is an enthralling murder mystery. It gets your heart pounding with action and passion, while simultaneously entangling your mind with its ambiguity. The dynamic duo has done it again. The husband and wife writing team of Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks pens another on-the-edge-of-your seat murder mystery. Engaging. Witty. Fast paced. I love the Hicks’ contemporary writing style. The narrative is full of delightful metaphorical statements. The setting takes you into the heart of New York City – it reflects just the right amount of ambiance… As the plot progresses, the intensity heightens, catapulting you into a surprising twist, then plummets you into a sudden, yet satisfying end.” - 5 Stars, Cheryl E. Rodriguez, Readers’ Favorite

 “Weave a Murderous Web involves a hotshot Wall Street lawyer who is a sassy, cynical New Yorker through and through. To help out a friend, she gets involved in a seamy matrimonial case that quickly pulls her into a vortex of murder, drugs, and dangerous games of deception.” - The Big Thrill 

“Weave a Murderous Web is a smart and entertaining mystery by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks that will leave lovers of the genre anxiously waiting for another installment starring the intrepid protagonist, Jane Larson… Weave a Murderous Web has plenty to keep the reader engaged as Jane digs in her heels, determined to get to the truth. Witty dialogue, supported by great writing and some understated humor, makes this book not only a must-read – but also a darned good one!” - 5 Stars, Marta Tandori, Readers’ Favorite

My Review:

Jane is a hotshot litigation attorney in New York City. As a favor to a friend, she takes on a case.. not realizing the mess she's walking into. As she looks further into the case, she quickly finds herself in trapped in a case full of drugs, murder, lies and now a threat to her life.

**Correction: This is the FIRST in a series!** I wanted to know a little more background on the characters... especially the protagonist, Jane. She is a firecracker and I absolutely love her! Someone who is witty, confident and uses words like "flibbertigibbet" has my two thumbs up. There were a lot of characters introduced and I did find myself losing track of each relationship. Everyone is a suspect and that makes for great intrigue. Action, red herrings and a twist that will be unexpected to some, but that I had an inkling about at the end. Weirdly, this book was more character driven for me than plot driven. I was more interested in Jane as a person than I really cared about the case... yet I needed to know more about her too. I did enjoy that the setting was in NYC and I could vividly picture everything!

I may have to pick up book one and see if I can get more into the mind of Jane. 

View all my reviews

About the Authors (and how cute are they?!):  

Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have been collaborating on books for forty-six years.  Their first joint effort was a student project while Anne was at Bryn Mawr College and Ken attended Haverford. Since then, they have written over twenty books together. They are members of International Thriller Writers. They live and work in New York City, where many of their books are set.

Their Jane Larson series of mystery/thrillers involves a high-powered New York City attorney with a penchant for getting involved in situations that she would be better off leaving alone. These novels have been praised by reviewers for their gritty portrayals of city life, lively characters, fast action, surprise endings and highly polished prose. Jane is cynical and rebellious, but she finds herself drawn to the simple life her deceased mother lived as an attorney who served women unable to afford legal services. The first two books in the series are Weave A Murderous Web and Praise Her, Praise Diana, both published by Melange Books, LLC. A third novel, Mind Me, Milady, will be published in early 2017.

Readers can connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Author Q&A:

What does your writing process look like?

Ken: These are really hard questions, Anne. Do we even have a writing process?

Anne: Of course, it’s how words get from our brains into a published book.

Ken: You mean, when I write something down and then you redo it and then I redo it and then you redo it and then–

Anne: That’s it.

Ken: Thanks for stopping me. I was getting dizzy.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?

Ken: Whoa, kryptonite?

Anne: The thing that stops our words from getting into the published book.

Ken:  Like when you change something, and I don’t like it, and you yell at me because the scene is boring, and I tell you your idea won’t possible work, and then we both get mad, and we go for a long walk, and we talk, and we finally figure out what we’ve been saying all along?

Anne: Now, I’m a little dizzy.

How many hours a day do you write?

Ken: As long as we need to?

Anne: That’s a fair answer, I guess.

Ken: But is there ever a time when you aren’t thinking about doing something with a book?

Anne: A new plot? A new turn on an old plot? Hmmm.

Ken: Exactly.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Ken: I don’t think you’re strange. Do you think I’m strange? Anne?

Anne: No, of course not. (She rolls her eyes). But I think some other writers might think our writing process is a little strange.

Ken: Yeah, our writing process may be strange, but it is never lonely, right? I would think that would be really hard—to write something and have to sit and wonder if it is good or bad or, worse, somewhere in between. Right?

Anne: And it is very nice to have someone to share the praise.

Ken: And a bad review.

Anne: I think we just answered the next question.

What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?

Anne: See previous answer.

Ken; Except we left something out. We both hate the marketing process, trying to get people to read and review our books.

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Ken: Not so far.

Anne: We wrote about child abuse (Kate and the Kid) and rape (Praise Her, Praise Diana). Two very difficult subjects.

Ken: There were lots of tough moments handling those subjects.

Anne: But we were always careful not to write something just to sensationalize.

Ken: It was another of those times when it really helped to work together.

Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?

Ken: Boring scenes are really hard to write. So tedious, and dull!

Anne: That’s why we remove them from the book.

Ken: And after all that work.

Anne: (sighs).

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Ken: This is so deep.

Anne: It’s like the chicken and the egg. Which came first?

Ken: Huh?

Anne: If you’re a great writer, having a big ego might make you take big chances and try to write in unusual ways. But then again, you might develop a big ego if you were generally retiring but hit big with a successful book. And if you were a terrible writer, a big ego might make you write something that only you thought was good. You see? It’s complicated.

Ken: Huh?

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Ken: When I was in the Fifth Grade, my teacher said something and I responded “so?” One little word and I ended up sitting in the hall for an hour.

Anne: I think they want to know about books you read as a child, like Wind In The Willows, or Little Women, or Little House on the Prairie.

Ken: I loved Donald Duck comic books. I read them over and over.

Anne: Let’s move on to the next question.

How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?

Anne: Wow. How many are there?

Ken: Shhhh.

Anne: What’s wrong.

Ken: You’ll hurt their feelings?

Anne: Whose feelings?

Ken: The stories! They all think they still have a chance to be a book. All they need is a new way of looking at the big picture. Maybe a new character here or there. A plot twist. Don’t break their little hearts.

Anne: Are we close to being done here? I think you may need a nap.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

Ken: Finally an easy one. I’m sixty-eight. What are you? Sixty-seven, right?

Anne: You are an... Never mind, what’s the next question?

What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Anne: We have a sort of family saga we have been working on, and we have two books coming out soon, Mind Me, Milady, which is another Jane Larson book, like Weave A Murderous Web. We also have a series for Tweens (Things Are Not What They Seem) and another series for Middle Readers. (Stone Faces and Brownstone Faces).

Ken: I’m working on a nap, just as soon as we are done.

Anne: Go ahead. I’ll finish up here, if you want. Please?

If you could cast the characters of this book for a movie, who would play your characters?

Anne: I would pick Meryl Streep. I love her. Or maybe Emma Stone. Or—

Ken: Marlene Dietrich.

Anne: What?

Ken: Or Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Grace Kelly.

Anne: They’re all dead, Ken.

Ken: Well, as long as we’re fantasizing...

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Anne: We read reviews, but we’ve never responded to a reviewer. Obviously, we prefer the good reviews, but it is always interesting to see what people think and where we seemed to have not gotten through with our story or our themes. Basically, we try to learn from what people say and move on, right Ken?

Ken: You are beautiful when you are lying.

Anne: Shut up, Ken.

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

Anne: Ken is a lawyer when he isn’t writing. Although he would probably want to be an artist. A sculptor or a photographer.

Ken: From your mouth to God’s ear.

Anne: I know.

Ken: Anne could do anything she wanted. She’s super-smart. But, I always thought she should be a voice actor. Seriously. She has an amazing voice over the telephone. Call her sometime, you’ll see.

What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Ken: How much was that marriage license in 1971? Twenty bucks?

Anne: That’s very sweet, Ken.

Ken: Did you ever pay me for your half?

Anne: Next!

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it? (and yes, I meant reader's) :D

Ken: Reader’s block. Cute. Reader’s block?

Anne: There are lots of books around and more are coming out all the time. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. It can stop me from reading sometimes.

Ken: You are so deep. Wow. Reader’s block...

Do you google yourself?

Ken: Never. I am an artist who simply does not care for fame or what people think.

Anne: Liar. Of course we do. I just Googled Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks and got 151,000 hits.

Ken: Hah! I Googled my nickname and got 252,000 hits.

Anne: Nickname? What nickname?

Ken: Superman. Lots of people call me that... Come back We’re not done yet!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Anne: Ken would be a baboon.

Ken: How did you guess? I could swing through the trees and never get scared of heights. You on the other hand would be a beautiful white swan that glides through the air or the water with equal grace and would rip the heart out of anyone who goes near her babies.

Anne: Can I go again? I didn’t really mean you’re a baboon. You’re a teddy bear. A cuddly teddy bear.

Ken: Too late. You’ve ripped my heart out.

What literary character is most like you?

Ken: Anne is the smart one in Little Women

Anne: Ken is Sam in the Pickwick Papers.

What authors have inspired you?

Anne: There are so many. Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Dickens, James Joyce.

Ken: Cicero, Sappho, Homer, Horace, Virgil—

Anne: Are you just showing off?

Ken: Maybe...

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

Ken: Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you. Satchel Paige.

Anne: That has nothing to do with books. What about, “Never give up.” “Your time will come”, “Your next book could be the one that catches the imagination of the world”?

Ken: Wow. Can we get back to writing right now?

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

Anne: I read over Ken’s first draft of this interview.

Ken: Yeah, where is that anyway? I can’t find it.

Anne: We’ll talk about that later. Say good night, Ken.

Ken: Good night, Ken.

Anne: (Sighs again). Good night!

Weave A Murderous Web 
Chapter One
I was in my office at Adams & Ridge talking on the telephone when Francine entered. At the moment, my friend, Lee, was on the other end of the wire, yakking up a storm in my ear. Her rant covered already familiar terrain. My man, my David, was drifting dangerously away from me while I did nothing to win him back. As we say around the courts, Oy.
Francine tiptoed forward and placed on my desk a two-day-old copy of The Daily News opened to the item concerning Mark Samuels’ death.
“I gotta go, Lee,” I said.
While Francine waited for me, she had backed into a corner of my office, leaned against the wall, and tried to make her six feet of lanky body less noticeable. Two large metal buttons were pinned to her heavily braided cotton sweater. One read Stop Fracking New York and the other protested against the annual Canadian seal hunt with a scarlet X through an image of a baby seal whose brains had been battered to a pink pulp.
I pointed at the newspaper and gave her a questioning glance, but she quickly averted her eyes to stare at the floor.
“Have you been listening to me at all?” Lee demanded. Her voice rose to a kind of exasperated wail. “David has been dating someone. I think he may be getting serious.”
“David was born serious, Lee,” I said.
“Stop it, Jane,” she shouted so I had to hold the phone away from my ear. Even Francine raised an eyebrow. “You know what I mean.”
“I’m sorry, Lee.”
“I don’t understand why you’re taking this so nonchalantly. You know you still love him. You could get back together in a heartbeat if you’d just spend a tenth as much time on a relationship as you spend on your career.”
“I’m a lawyer, Lee. Not a—”
A sharp intake of breath followed. “Not a baby maker?” Lee demanded. Anger replaced the plaintive wail. “Is that what you were going to say?”
Would I ever admit that the word had been on the tip of my tongue?
“No. I was going to say, ‘not a librarian’, or the owner of some other nine-to-five job. The hours come with the territory, Lee. David knows that, but deep down in that wonderful heart of his, he also thinks the hours spent at the office are A-okay for the guy, but not for the girl. In any event, Martha didn’t raise her daughter to compete over a man.”
The sound of a whale breaching the surface erupted from the phone. “You’re maddening, Jane.”
“No, I’m busy,” I replied.
Lee sighed. “Well, I have to go too. Laurie is home sick and I’m taking her to the doctor. We’ll talk more later, Jane. I’m not going to sit back and let this happen to my two best friends in the world. I’m going to fight, Jane.”
“Goodbye, Lee.”
She disconnected.
Actually, I wasn’t busy at all, or I wouldn’t have spent even that much time on the phone being lectured by Lee. She’s an old friend from Columbia Law, but enough is enough.
A major litigation I had been working on had settled just a day before and the client and powers-that-be at Adams & Ridge were very happy with me—especially Seymour Ridge. The old man himself had hammered out the settlement shortly after I made the CEO of the party suing our client look like a doofus on the witness stand. So, I had some time on my hands until I was given another assignment.
More to the point, I wanted to know why Francine was still standing in my office, staring at the tips of her shoes. She was a legal assistant with the firm. I had gotten her the job. However, she didn’t work on any of my cases. That was a rule I had laid down from the beginning.
“Hello, Francine,” I said.
“Hi, Jane.” She looked up shyly, smiled her timid smile, gave a meaningful glance in the direction of the paper and resumed looking at her shoes. I had known her for so long that she was more like a relative than a friend, in the sense that one does not choose one’s relatives. She was really really shy but also effective in getting her way with me. I read the article.
It was as depressing as I had expected. Mark Samuels was a single practitioner who worked out of a small office above a bodega on 116th Street. He wasn’t married and had no family to speak of. The exact date and hour of his demise were uncertain. The body was discovered only after fellow inhabitants of his East Village apartment house reported a foul odor during the last week in June when a heat wave had sent temperatures rising into the high nineties. Those same conditions had made his remains swell like a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
How can a person die without anyone knowing for a week or ten days? Did he have no friend or family member who cared to check on him? Were all of them as completely egotistical as he was?
The cause of death, however, was easy to determine. When the cops broke down his door, three short fat lines of cocaine were still in place on the old-fashioned hand mirror Mark used to chop the drug fine enough to snort. The coroner confirmed Mark died of severe heart arrhythmia, which is to say his ticker skipped a few too many beats before stopping altogether. Testing of the merchandise showed the stuff he’d inhaled had been nearly pure—several times the strength of what is normally available on the street. As the cops put it, either he had chosen to depart this green orb flying on nose powder or he was inordinately careless. I suppose it didn’t much matter which alternative was true. The result was the same. An overdose had killed him.
I looked up warily, unwilling to reveal I had the slightest interest in the entire subject.
“Why are you showing this to me, Francine,” I asked.
“Didn’t you know Mark when you worked for Legal Services for the Poor?”
Did she expect me to burst into tears?
“Yeah,” I said, “and he was just as big a screw-up then. They put him in the Family Law area because he could do the least harm there. At least no one could lose their apartment or get sent to jail because of him.”
Francine winced. You might think this resulted from a superstitious aversion to speaking ill of the dead. You would be wrong. Francine had an aversion to speaking ill both of the living and the dead.
“He kept doing matrimonial work after he left Legal Services,” Francine added. She nodded, as if agreeing with her own words, then fell into silence. Silence was her friend.
“And?” I said.
Francine pulled up her sweater, which was being dragged low by those protest buttons and exposing her collarbones and the top of her boney chest. Her stringy hair, a field mouse brown, had no discernible style. She had never chosen to master the art of makeup despite my efforts with pencil, rouge, and lipstick back when we were teenagers. The only jewelry she now wore was a pendulous locket with gold thread tying it together. She said she’d purchased it in a wild moment at an uptown thrift shop. Of course, those buttons and their slogans were a kind of jewelry, I suppose, in that jewelry also says, “Look at me. This is what I am.”
Francine smiled at her shoes and continued. “Well, he had a client, Gail Hollings, who is a very good friend of mine, Jane, and—”
Now I saw where this was going. “Would this friend of yours be in need of a lawyer?”
“She’s in an awful fix, Jane. She has a court appearance at two o’ clock this afternoon. She gave Mark three thousand dollars, which was all she could scrape together. She has no money left at all.”
“Ridge will be glad to hear that. No money. Great.”
Francine rummaged in the front pocket of her cargo pants, pulled out a wallet, and then drew from inside it a picture of a young child with long blond pigtails that dwarfed her diminutive round face but did not steal the scene from her toothy grin.
“She has a little girl,” Francine added, glancing from the snapshot to me and back again to emphasize her point.
“No money, no lawyer, and a kid. This just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?”
My mother, Martha, who insists I call her by her first name, always says Francine faces a bright future if Jesus’ prediction about the meek is really true. Believe me, the meek have power, especially over those of us with guilt. Martha would love that. Guilt. I was like a fish nibbling at a big juicy worm and getting closer and closer to the hook. Francine was the fisherwoman, waiting patiently for the slightest pull on the line.
“Look, you know I can’t take on this case, Francine. However, I have some free time today, so I can at least go down to court and adjourn the matter until we can find someone to help Gail and little…”
“Courtney,” Francine said with a rush of breath that made the name seem like a prayer. An expression filled her eyes that reminded me of an early Renaissance image of a martyr at the moment of supreme sacrifice, pain mixed with a kind of bliss that seems to make it all worthwhile.
The hook was set. That much was obvious. Francine had only to slowly reel me in.
I opened a drawer and pulled out a legal pad to record the names of mother and daughter.
“There’s just one thing maybe you should know,” Francine said.
My pencil poised in midair and then wrote “one thing” with an exclamation point. I still have that piece of paper in the top drawer of my desk.
“Well, Carmen Ruiz has kind of taken an interest in this because of the women’s rights angle and what happened to Mark and all.”
“Carmen Ruiz? Last time I heard of her, she was spending time at a fat farm.”
This was code. Everyone knew that the ‘fat farm,’ as I had injudiciously put it, was also a place where people could lose other bad habits, such as drugs.
Francine winced again and swallowed hard. “That’s unkind, Jane.”
Chalk one up for the meek.
“You’re right, Francine. How is Carmen doing?”
“She’s got a new gig on cable. One of the local news stations.”
I nodded. I was safe from unkind remarks if I kept my mouth shut. At one time the cognoscenti had called Carmen the “female Wolf Blitzer” because she had enjoyed asking the hard questions, especially of men who were not used to being pushed around. The fact that she had the flashing good looks of a gypsy queen didn’t hurt, but now she was scuffling on cable news.
“She said she called you a couple of times.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been busy.”
I was on the verge of getting back the advantage, never easy in a conversation with humanitarian types like Francine, especially if your mother always places such types on a pedestal, a very high pedestal.
Martha has not been affiliated with any organized religion since her mind began to function at age eleven. Still, she shares Jesus’ distrust of wealth and is fond of quoting both his advice to sell all you have and give it to the poor and his adage that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You don’t even believe in Jesus,” I argue.
“I don’t have to believe in Jesus as God to know he’s telling the truth,” she retorts.
When I had accepted the job at Adams & Ridge, Carmen had had some unkind things to say to mutual friends about my going for the gold. Her whole premise that Martha’s goodness had gotten lost in one generation to my grabbiness had cut a bit too close to the bone. I hadn’t forgotten.
“Carmen’s working on a series about children and the courts,” Francine said. “Kids falling into poverty are a very big problem.”
“I’m aware of the problem, Francine. I’ll skip over the question of what has made Carmen give a good hoot in hell about children all of a sudden. What does any of this have to do with that coke-head Mark?”
“Oh, nothing much. Nothing at all really.”
She was hedging, worried that the prospect of helping Carmen might have made me shut the whole thing down before it ever began.
“Go on, Francine.”
“It’s just… she knew Mark fairly well and doesn’t think his death was accidental. She says Mark did drugs too much to do something that stupid.”
“So she thinks he did it on purpose? Is that it? He committed suicide over the predicament of his client and child?”
“Not exactly,” Francine said.
In hindsight I can see clearly how nonchalant she wanted to seem, playing with the gold locket and dropping it inside her sweater, glancing in the direction of the window as if a pretty bird had alighted there.
“Carmen thinks Mark was murdered.”


  1. Chandra, Thanks for interviewing us and for taking the time to review our novel as well. Anne and I appreciate it! Just to clarify, there are three Jane Larson books. Chronologically, Weave is first. Mind Me, Milady is second. Praise Her, Praise Diana is third. Thanks again!

  2. Ahhh! I'm so sorry. I'll update that in a bit. I truly do love Jane!

    1. We truly appreciate your review and are very happy that you love Jane. We do also!