Sweet Mary by Liz Balmaseda
Balmaseda is a two time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and this is her first novel. It was one of my favorite mystery debuts of 2009
Dulce Maria (Mary) Guevara is a single mother and a very successful Miami real estate agent. Mary has worked hard to provide a nice home for her and son, Max. Mary's life is turned upside down when she is mistaken for a drug queen pin. One morning the FBI searches Mary's house and she's arrested in front of her son. After the charges are dropped, Mary realizes the only way to get her life back and not lose custody of her son is to catch the real criminal.
Sweet Mary was such a pleasure to read. I loved it. Mary is a wonderfully crafted character. Part of the beauty of this mystery is Mary comes across as a real person. She is an accidental sleuth, like Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan or Kyra Davis's Sophie Katz.
One of the many strengths of this story is the relationship between Mary and her best friend Gina Torres. Gina helps search for the real criminal. Balmaseda allows the reader to get a good taste of the city of Miami. Sweet Mary is a wonderful addition to the mystery genre.