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The Mirror and the Mask

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Minneapolis restaurateur Jane Lawless is at crossroads. The rough economy has put her plans for a third restaurant on hold, and her long distance romance is on the rocks and quite possibly unsalvageable. Unsure of what to do next, she takes her good friend A. J. Nolan up on his standing offer to take her on as a private investigator. While still in training, her first job s Minneapolis restaurateur Jane Lawless is at crossroads. The rough economy has put her plans for a third restaurant on hold, and her long distance romance is on the rocks and quite possibly unsalvageable. Unsure of what to do next, she takes her good friend A. J. Nolan up on his standing offer to take her on as a private investigator. While still in training, her first job seems simple enough. All she had to do is find Annie Archer’s stepfather. Jane tracks down a likely match—a man who has made a small fortune in real estate. While she’s happy to close her first case, she finds it hard to reconcile the difference between PI work—finding what people pay you to find—and uncovering the truth, the whole truth, especially when clues in this seemingly simple case point to more threatening family secrets than where Annie’s father has been hiding out. Ellen Hart’s The Mirror and the Mask is another engrossing mystery filled with the deceit and psychological intrigue that fans have come to expect from this Lambda and Minnesota Book Award--winning author.


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Minneapolis restaurateur Jane Lawless is at crossroads. The rough economy has put her plans for a third restaurant on hold, and her long distance romance is on the rocks and quite possibly unsalvageable. Unsure of what to do next, she takes her good friend A. J. Nolan up on his standing offer to take her on as a private investigator. While still in training, her first job s Minneapolis restaurateur Jane Lawless is at crossroads. The rough economy has put her plans for a third restaurant on hold, and her long distance romance is on the rocks and quite possibly unsalvageable. Unsure of what to do next, she takes her good friend A. J. Nolan up on his standing offer to take her on as a private investigator. While still in training, her first job seems simple enough. All she had to do is find Annie Archer’s stepfather. Jane tracks down a likely match—a man who has made a small fortune in real estate. While she’s happy to close her first case, she finds it hard to reconcile the difference between PI work—finding what people pay you to find—and uncovering the truth, the whole truth, especially when clues in this seemingly simple case point to more threatening family secrets than where Annie’s father has been hiding out. Ellen Hart’s The Mirror and the Mask is another engrossing mystery filled with the deceit and psychological intrigue that fans have come to expect from this Lambda and Minnesota Book Award--winning author.

30 review for The Mirror and the Mask

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carl Brookins

    This novel is an important achievement in the arc of the Jane Lawless series. In it’s most fundamental construction, the author has brought together an interesting collection of characters; some. like Jane and Cordelia, well-known with whom we are familiar. At least we thought so. Author Hart has spent a good deal of time considering psychological motivations of human kind and apparently now feels comfortable making a few judgment calls. “Their hearts were also solitary, a mystery to others, and This novel is an important achievement in the arc of the Jane Lawless series. In it’s most fundamental construction, the author has brought together an interesting collection of characters; some. like Jane and Cordelia, well-known with whom we are familiar. At least we thought so. Author Hart has spent a good deal of time considering psychological motivations of human kind and apparently now feels comfortable making a few judgment calls. “Their hearts were also solitary, a mystery to others, and to themselves.” Closing words that could easily be the opening lines to the novel. Annie Archer, a flawed young woman who has already seen too much of the seamier side of life comes to Minneapolis looking for her father. It’s a tenuous search, a friend has suggested to Anne that she’s seen her father at a bar. When Archer arrives, broke and desperate, she finds part-time work at one of Jane Lawless’s restaurants. The two women form an easy if tentative connection. “The Mirror and The Mask,” is a smoothly-written carefully constructed novel. Attitudes and opinions expressed by Hart’s characters are likely to remain for a while in reader’s minds.

  2. 5 out of 5

    J. Brendan

    I've never read any of the Jane Lawless books and chose this one on impulse from the library. Lots of cool characters and a well-developed world, but definitely seemed like a mystery series that is better enjoyed in order with the cumulative weight of previous books in your mind. Some of the story threads were definitely unrelated to the mystery and more about the ongoing development of series characters who were compelling but I wasn't invested in since this was my first outing. Still, loved se I've never read any of the Jane Lawless books and chose this one on impulse from the library. Lots of cool characters and a well-developed world, but definitely seemed like a mystery series that is better enjoyed in order with the cumulative weight of previous books in your mind. Some of the story threads were definitely unrelated to the mystery and more about the ongoing development of series characters who were compelling but I wasn't invested in since this was my first outing. Still, loved seeing a fully realized world in the Twin Cities with three-dimensional queer characters.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gaybriel Day

    I could not put the book down. Just when I thought I knew where the book was going it turned. This is one of my favorites in the series.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    My favorite of the Jane Lawless books so far! I was kept guessing all the way to the end!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tink

    17 down.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deb Rankin-Moore

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What happened to the “perfect fingerprint” found on the murder weapon?!? Yawn.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This was typical Ellen Hart. It was a quick read and held my attention until the end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gail Cooke

    With this, the 17th in Ellen Hart's highly successful Jane Lawless mystery series, we first meet 13-year-old Annie Andrews who lives in Traverse City, Michigan with her resort manager mom. Annie was happy, loved her school, and thought she and her mom were all that was needed after Annie's dad died. Apparently, mom didn't feel quite the same way because she's been corresponding with Johnny Archer, a prisoner who has just been released and is about to knock on their apartment door. Flash forward With this, the 17th in Ellen Hart's highly successful Jane Lawless mystery series, we first meet 13-year-old Annie Andrews who lives in Traverse City, Michigan with her resort manager mom. Annie was happy, loved her school, and thought she and her mom were all that was needed after Annie's dad died. Apparently, mom didn't feel quite the same way because she's been corresponding with Johnny Archer, a prisoner who has just been released and is about to knock on their apartment door. Flash forward to the present where we find our heroine/sleuth Jane in one of her Minneapolis restaurants, the Xanadu Club, where a pipe had burst causing a minor but nonetheless wet flood. Further, she's on the brink of 45 and there had been "a messy romantic breakup last November that had left her feeling uncharacteristically confused, sluggish, and depressed." Need we mention that she put opening another restaurant on hold due to the current economy? Jane really doesn't need any more challenges but then in walks a full grown Annie Andrews looking for work, she was "tall, blond, and fashion model pretty." Jane puts Annie to work and soon agrees to help Annie find her stepfather, yep, the same Johnny Archer. Annie hasn't seen him since her mom's funeral some 12 years before. For help in tracking down Archer Jane had turned to ex-cop Nolan which caused her overly dramatic best friend, Cordelia, to have a hissy fit. (Hart wisely often uses Cordelia for comic relief.) Nonetheless, it's not long before a hunt for a person turns into a murder. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Mishap

    Jane Lawless is 44, her plans to open a new restaurant in the Twin Cities are on hold because of the economy, and she has just lost her current partner, Kenzie, due to the difficulties of a long distance relationship and Jane's busy lifestyle. Which, by the way, includes some sleuthing on the side. The latest mystery from Hart provides a typically troubled protagonist ready to be sucked into someone's else's problem. That's were Annie comes into Jane's place looking for work and Jane offers to he Jane Lawless is 44, her plans to open a new restaurant in the Twin Cities are on hold because of the economy, and she has just lost her current partner, Kenzie, due to the difficulties of a long distance relationship and Jane's busy lifestyle. Which, by the way, includes some sleuthing on the side. The latest mystery from Hart provides a typically troubled protagonist ready to be sucked into someone's else's problem. That's were Annie comes into Jane's place looking for work and Jane offers to help find her father. All is not as it seems, of course, as Jane discovers that Annie isn't being entirely truthful when she finds out who her father is. Meanwhile, a realtor and her lover plan to murder her cold husband and Cordelia still pines for the company of her niece. Hart never stints on the characters--even bit players sometimes get backstories. While we may never know exactly what makes a person tick, Hart gives us some events, experiences, and even characters self-reflecting, so it feels like we are reading about people instead of mystery genre archetypes. Still, the mystery was a little thin this time, as she went for drama, and Cordelia's schtick is getting tired. Although her scene at the end was touching.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Hagen

    The Mirror and the Mask, by Ellen Hart, a-minus, Narrated by Aimee Jolson, Produced by audible inc. and downloaded from audible.com. Jane has contemplated opening a new restaurant, her third, but plans are put on hold because of the economy. A young woman showed up one day at one of her restaurants looking for a job. Jane likes her on sight and agrees to give her part-time work whenever the restaurants need more people. The young woman, Annie, has her own agenda. She tells Jane she is trying to f The Mirror and the Mask, by Ellen Hart, a-minus, Narrated by Aimee Jolson, Produced by audible inc. and downloaded from audible.com. Jane has contemplated opening a new restaurant, her third, but plans are put on hold because of the economy. A young woman showed up one day at one of her restaurants looking for a job. Jane likes her on sight and agrees to give her part-time work whenever the restaurants need more people. The young woman, Annie, has her own agenda. She tells Jane she is trying to find her father, who abandoned her after her mother died. Jane turns to her private eye friend who says he’ll help but says he will do so only if Jane does the major work as part of her training to become a private eye. Jane finds the father with the help of Cordelia, but finds that this opens a can of worms with more dangerous family secrets. Very good as usual with surprises at the end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    I enjoy Hart's books - I always enjoy Cordelia and wish Jane was little more sympathetic - I'm often disturbed by the other "cast of characters" - perhaps it's because her portrayals are 2 dimensional ...or at least, not fleshed out. Note: this represents ALL of her Jane Lawless books (as with J.D. Robb) I agree completely with this comment from another "good reader": "My problem with this one, unfortunately significant, was that I detested almost all of the participants, including the folks I bel I enjoy Hart's books - I always enjoy Cordelia and wish Jane was little more sympathetic - I'm often disturbed by the other "cast of characters" - perhaps it's because her portrayals are 2 dimensional ...or at least, not fleshed out. Note: this represents ALL of her Jane Lawless books (as with J.D. Robb) I agree completely with this comment from another "good reader": "My problem with this one, unfortunately significant, was that I detested almost all of the participants, including the folks I believe were intended as sympathetic." I often find people in her books creepy and the impact was particularly strong because I read 2 of her books back to back.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Not as dark as the last two, although plenty of dysfunction and family violence/abuse explored here. It was interesting that this one focused so much on the outside characters--that is, the ones the serve as the premise of the mystery, rather than Jane, Cordelia, and the various Lawless family members. I was glad Cordelia made several appearances here, and even got important information for Jane at one point, but of course, I could always do with more of her. Jane's still messed up about relatio Not as dark as the last two, although plenty of dysfunction and family violence/abuse explored here. It was interesting that this one focused so much on the outside characters--that is, the ones the serve as the premise of the mystery, rather than Jane, Cordelia, and the various Lawless family members. I was glad Cordelia made several appearances here, and even got important information for Jane at one point, but of course, I could always do with more of her. Jane's still messed up about relationships, of course, but it seemed as if she was starting to face her fears and move on a little, so at least she didn't seem stuck.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    Hart is a very good writer, clearly shown here. After the last couple of episodes featuring Jane's father and brother, she plays a glorified cameo role in the lives of an incredibly dysfunctional extended family; Cordelia has more "airtime" than she does. My problem with this one, unfortunately significant, was that I detested almost all of the participants, including the folks I believe were intended as sympathetic. Resolution of the various plot threads seemed a bit neat. I'm still interested i Hart is a very good writer, clearly shown here. After the last couple of episodes featuring Jane's father and brother, she plays a glorified cameo role in the lives of an incredibly dysfunctional extended family; Cordelia has more "airtime" than she does. My problem with this one, unfortunately significant, was that I detested almost all of the participants, including the folks I believe were intended as sympathetic. Resolution of the various plot threads seemed a bit neat. I'm still interested in where the series might be headed, but miss the way things were earlier, before Jane's life got so ... complicated.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cab

    Well I definitely read this out of order, which this time around I found myself trying to place the characters in relation to "The Cruel Ever After." Initially, I felt that the story got a slow start and I found that I disliked Curt enough that every time he came up in the story I mentally tagged him as a whiner and I could have easily done without him. Interestingly, I also found Jane to be a bit weak in this story as well, and by that I mean needy. Regardless, the story picked up pace and I was Well I definitely read this out of order, which this time around I found myself trying to place the characters in relation to "The Cruel Ever After." Initially, I felt that the story got a slow start and I found that I disliked Curt enough that every time he came up in the story I mentally tagged him as a whiner and I could have easily done without him. Interestingly, I also found Jane to be a bit weak in this story as well, and by that I mean needy. Regardless, the story picked up pace and I was fully engaged by the second or third chapter. Oh and the ending had a fun twist.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Freyja Vanadis

    Marginally better, but not by much. And the ending, where Cordelia gets her niece Hattie back, is no more likely to happen than a unicorn is to show up at my bedroom window. It's obvious Ms. Hart doesn't understand men very well; she writes them from a women's point of view, which is as unrealistic as the way male authors write their female characters. I'll just be glad when I'm done reading all the Hart books I've purchased, and I won't buy any more after this. Marginally better, but not by much. And the ending, where Cordelia gets her niece Hattie back, is no more likely to happen than a unicorn is to show up at my bedroom window. It's obvious Ms. Hart doesn't understand men very well; she writes them from a women's point of view, which is as unrealistic as the way male authors write their female characters. I'll just be glad when I'm done reading all the Hart books I've purchased, and I won't buy any more after this.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Annie arrives in Minneapolis-St. Paul, looking for answers about her long-absent father. She meets restaurant owner and amateur detective Jane Lawless, who offers her a job and help. Jane and her friend Cordelia identify Annie's father, but Jane is sure that the attractive Annie is keeping secrets from her. As Annie gets involved with her father's new family, she finds herself in increasing danger. Annie arrives in Minneapolis-St. Paul, looking for answers about her long-absent father. She meets restaurant owner and amateur detective Jane Lawless, who offers her a job and help. Jane and her friend Cordelia identify Annie's father, but Jane is sure that the attractive Annie is keeping secrets from her. As Annie gets involved with her father's new family, she finds herself in increasing danger.

  17. 5 out of 5

    A

    This mystery was okay but I expected more. Jane Lawless has a lot to deal with, her ex-husband arrives with trouble following right behind him, an ex girlfriend wanting her back, mysterious figures following her around, and a huge surprise. For much of the story Jane really wasn't involve that much in solving this mystery it was mostly other characters. This mystery was okay but I expected more. Jane Lawless has a lot to deal with, her ex-husband arrives with trouble following right behind him, an ex girlfriend wanting her back, mysterious figures following her around, and a huge surprise. For much of the story Jane really wasn't involve that much in solving this mystery it was mostly other characters.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Grey853

    I really enjoyed this book much more than I expected. Despite the fact that Jane Lawless is really almost like a secondary character, Hart leads the reader through a whole maze of relationships and connections. I found it very compelling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daphne Birchfield

    jane needs to invest in a gun instead of going head-first into a dangerous situation. not everyone can be negotiated with or talked down from the brink of committing murder. Didn't see much of nolan. missed hattie a lot. jane needs to invest in a gun instead of going head-first into a dangerous situation. not everyone can be negotiated with or talked down from the brink of committing murder. Didn't see much of nolan. missed hattie a lot.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bhanu Marley

    This book was amazing but a little draggy.I wish Jane Lawless was straight.

  21. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    Probably the last of the series I will read. While a fast read more disappointing than anything else. Focused on other characters who weren't just interesting enough. Overall a waste of good money Probably the last of the series I will read. While a fast read more disappointing than anything else. Focused on other characters who weren't just interesting enough. Overall a waste of good money

  22. 4 out of 5

    April

    Just finished this and have the latest to go on with. Enjoyed the characters in all their glory, a great variety of likeable and less likeable personlities.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Avery Guess

    Another fun mystery from Ellen Hart. I've missed a few of them over the years because of school, but picking up a Jane Lawless mystery was like being reunited with old friends. Another fun mystery from Ellen Hart. I've missed a few of them over the years because of school, but picking up a Jane Lawless mystery was like being reunited with old friends.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Angel

    good read; I like Jane and Cordelia, but I wish Jane would find true love.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Hilton

    I only read half of the book, it got into some subjects I didn't feel like reading about. Other than that, I am sure the plot was great, but wouldn't know how it ended. I only read half of the book, it got into some subjects I didn't feel like reading about. Other than that, I am sure the plot was great, but wouldn't know how it ended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    E.A.

    Not as much Jane and Cordelia interaction as the other books, but still a well crafted mystery. Though it would be nice to see the heroine get to keep the girl for a change.

  27. 5 out of 5

    JoyfulK

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shirleynature

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karyn

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