Eminent Domain: A Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery (Review)

I just finished reading Traci Hilton’s Eminent Domain. for full disclosure, Traci is a personal friend of mine and I am paying for the book by reviewing it.

Eminent Domain is the second of the Mitzi Neuhous Series. This book is a sequel to Forclosed, referring to events in the first book. I recommend that those reading the second one will find it more enjoyable after reading the first.

In these books, we meet Mitzy Neuhous, a young business woman who I can describe as: “annoying.” Yes, she is successful at business because she has good instincts and she is not reckless with money. She is a self made woman — most writers would show how she is a heroine that people should envy. Traci shows us Mitzy’s strengths, but also her weaknesses. In a short it is a fun read, It is good to have a character who is life-sized, without being bigger than life.

In the first book, Mitzy finds mansion in foreclosure which is a blight on the neighborhood. During the down market, she personally bought a couple properties near this mansion, and seeks a way to keep it from harming her property value. In the process, she manages to put herself in danger by crossing Russian organized crime, finding stolen jewels, and trying run everything. She also attempts a relationship, which forces her to second guess herself — she’s good at evaluating things from a fiscal standpoint, but not so good in other areas of life.

In the second book, she is part of a partnership to invest in the old mansion, turning it into an inn. In this story, she recklessly goes forward with renovation during the FBI’s investigation. She hides evidence, interferes, and is genuinely frustrated that they are standing in the way of her schedule. If she were not a millionaire, and a public figure, she would likely spend a month or two in jail just so the Feds could get her out of their way. (yes, Traci did make her that annoying). While she gets to keep her boyfriend, she loses her entire office staff.

I found these books to be a fun diversion from school. The second book is a marked improvement over the first — but both show much in common. The second stands out, because it seems better planned and likely better edited, but in both cases Traci’s humor stood out, as did her skill at writing dialog.

One thing which might “offend” readers, these books have just over one page out of 100 where a character is trying to reconcile how his or her Christianity plays into the decisions. Mitzy, usually, finds herself second guessing her actions as she realizes that Christ’s values are somewhat different than quarterly profits. Her boyfriend Alonzo struggles with accepting the ethical differences between the world and the church. While he accepts rules, he struggles with the question of working within these rules. Some readers prefer a complete lack of religious content, however this reader finds that the struggle to harmonize faith and life to be normal… most likely the author does as well.

A more difficult point for me was the romantic aspect to the story. I can understand a businessperson archetype, but the relationship aspect to this story was somewhat more difficult. I was honestly confused about what Alonzo sees in Mitzy — and what inspires him to put up with her. There was a line where they admit they are both “difficult” people — and this is likely it in a nutshell. Some signs of his difficulty are his lack of romantic imagination and his temper. Perhaps the largest difficulty between the two is the simple fact that both are businesspeople in the same industry, at a time when the market is collapsing.

Over all, I recommend this for a light and fun read. It’s got business, local politics, organized crime, kidnapping, false arrests, annoyed cops, arson, secret information, the FBI — and a silly woman who wants to be in the middle of everything. True love? One can be hopeful, but I will let the author decide. Can you fight city hall? Traci leaves that question unresolved but it is certain that one can try.

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