When teacher Mike Peterson is found dead with a large amount of cocaine in his system, the school district administration agrees with the coroner that it was a tragic and foolish accident. The administrationís top priority is to make sure the community knows that Mikeís drug use was an isolated incident. But two of Mikeís fellow teachers and close friends, Jennie and Maggie, canít believe Mike would use drugs and canít let the matter drop so easily. They recruit two of their friends, a social worker and another teacher, to try to clear Mikeís name.
The four women dive head first into unraveling the mystery of Mikeís death. Does it have anything to do with a prank memo Maggie sent out to rile school administrators? How much did they really know about Mike? Who is Mikeís mysterious wife? And why is the teachersí union president so concerned with the friendsí investigation?
In another book, these might all be compelling questions. However, because of serious flaws in A Memo from Harvey!, the questions are answered clumsily in a plot that is slow to start, lurches around and then finally sprawls into the territory of complete absurdity. Usually, books with weak plots have other redeeming features Ė strong characters, vivid descriptions or strong writing. Again, Memo strikes out on these counts as well.
The characters are paper-thin and much of the action consists of their long telephone conversations or dinner chats. Descriptions of places and people are provided on a rather sporadic basis. And the writing, unfortunately, is about as strong as herbal tea. To add insult to injury, the book has several copy-editing mistakes in both wording and punctuation that are readily apparent even to a casual reader.
The premise of a fake memo sparking all manner of treachery and intrigue is very appealing. Itís rather unfortunate that A Memo from Harvey! strays from the premise and does not deliver on any of its promise.