The Nursing Home

The Nursing Home

By: James J. Murphy
Publisher: L&J Publishing
Publication Date: September 2010
ISBN: 978-0984273102
Reviewed by: Bill Alberts
Review Date: July 2010

Nobody wants to live in a nursing home; they’re frequently unkempt, depressing and the last stop on life’s journey. Rigg’s Nursing Home is different; while it looks nice from the outside, people are dying within its walls, but it isn’t just the elderly patients, it is the employees too.

As the story opens, Morris Grover, a forgetful, somewhat grumpy 84-year-old, is being taken to Riggs by his family, a family who would rather rush home to watch the ball game than stay and help their father/grandfather move in to his new home. Morris is miserable but resigns himself to his fate. When Felix, his roommate, suddenly dies, staff and patients alike chalk it up to Felix’s age and infirmities. But when another patient dies soon after, the residents start to become suspicious.

Many of the staff are cruel and abusive to the elderly patients, particularly an aide named Bill. Maybe Bill is the one pulling plugs and getting rid of patients he doesn’t like. But when Bill is fired, and the staff start showing up dead, suspicions shift.

While Bill makes an encore appearance later on in the novel, and the reader is privy to the actual murders, I suspect few will be able to figure out what is actually going on. Not content to quietly sit on the sidelines, Morris and a close-knit group of friends band together and try to discover the truth. Meanwhile, a small group of young, recently hired employees also work on trying to solve the crimes. Could the murderer possibly be Cyndi Gillian, the mild-mannered head of the home? What about the two bumbling cops assigned to the case, O’Conner and Conway?

The premise of The Nursing Home is unique, with a nursing home as the setting and elderly, grouchy patients as the protagonists. In addition, a good mystery should keep the reader wondering until the very end and this book delivers. Although the author throws out a couple of hints, I suspect few readers will be able to solve the mystery. While the story is intriguing, the writing does tend to be a bit clunky in parts, both in narration (Cyndi hung up and felt somewhat relieved for a moment just to get that off her chest) and dialogue (“Conway thinks the murders that have happened are revolved around him.”). A careful editing would greatly enhance the reading of The Nursing Home.

Quill says: A fun mystery story that invites the reader to enter the realm of a creepy nursing home, that could use a bit of editing.

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