Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MOTHER'S DAY OUT - Karen MacInerney

Life is pretty typical for stay-at-home mom Margie Peterson. She’s got two young kids, an attorney husband who never quite makes partner, and a fixer-upper house she doesn’t have the money to fix. Things are rolling along fine until the first preschool tuition bill hits the mailbox, and Margie realizes it’s time to take out a second mortgage…or get a job.

Margie’s mother-in-law wants her to join the Junior League, her mother thinks her aura needs adjusting, and her husband wants her to sell Tupperware. But Margie decides on something more exciting than washing dishes at charity teas or matching plastic lids with bowls.

When a seedy PI agency hires her as a part-time private investigator, Margie finds herself tracking an obese plumbing salesman with a penchant for Saran Wrap and bargain-basement hookers. But Margie’s no Sam Spade. By the end of her first day, she’s totaled her minivan, submitted a picture of a naked man in Saran Wrap to the school newsletter, and accidentally participated in a drag queen contest. When she finds a dead transvestite in the “Princesses’” room of a gay bar, she decides it may be time to hang up her hat and start planning Tupperware parties. Then she picks up the drag queen’s phone … and discovers the last call the dead man made was to Margie’s own house.

This was FUN! This is what it would have been if Lucille Ball had decided to become a private investigator.
Marigold 'Margie' Peterson wants to earn some extra money. Her husband wants her to be a SAHM and join the Junior League to help him move up to partner in the law firm. 
Margie finds Peaches, a private investigator, and asks for a tryout. Peaches reluctantly gives her a shot with an infidelity case. Margie gets her man, wrapped in plastic wrap, and it's pedal to the metal from there on out.
She wins points with the snooty headmistress of her children's pre-school by agreeing to look into missing school funds. And her next job leads her into getting third place in a drag queen contest.
I loved this book. I could identify with Margie's need to get out of the house and find herself again. She is more than a mother and wife and definitely more than Junior League material. She has the coolest best friend, Becky, who helps her out in more ways than one.
I do hope there will be more adventures with Margie. I love Karen MacInerney's other two series I've read, Grey Whale Inn Mystery and Tales of an Urban Werewolf, and now I can add Marigold's adventures to the mix.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HALLOWED BONES: Sarah Booth Delaney #5 - Carolyn Haines

The southern Delta has never been more exhilarating, evocative, and wickedly funny than in the mysteries of Carolyn Haines. Now she takes readers on another rollicking ride across the Mississippi cotton fields and into the glamour of New Orleans…as P.I. Sarah Booth Delaney follows a winding trail of murder and deception into a world where ghosts make fashion statements—and where one person’s miracle is another person’s mayhem.
The leaves of the calendar may be shedding faster than the sycamores on her family’s decaying Mississippi plantation, but thirty-something southern belle Sarah Booth Delaney isn’t ready to sing the blues. Not when she’s got a thriving detective agency and the outspoken, outrageously attired ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny to keep her on her toes. But the matchmaking phantom may have the last word on motherhood when Sarah Booth takes on the controversial case of an accused baby killer.
Although Doreen Mallory’s been arrested for feeding sleeping pills to her ten-week-old daughter, no one could accuse her of lacking faith. A healer who, tragically, couldn’t save her own baby girl, born with multiple birth defects, Doreen has her own crosses to bear. While the local law seems convinced of Doreen’s guilt, Sarah Booth isn’t so sure. But why is Doreen reluctant to talk about the men in her life? Like the televangelist who stands to lose a lot more than his flock. Or the married politician with family ties to the Mob. Either of them could be little Rebekah’s father; either of them could also be her killer.
With Halloween approaching and her own personal life up for grabs, Sarah Booth could use a little faith healing herself. Torn between a married sheriff and an old flame who’s literally sweeping her off her feet, she’d better be prepared for the fallout of her most unpopular case yet. Justice may not stand a ghost of a chance as a decades-old secret explodes, unleashing a storm of fury on Sarah Booth and all those she loves.
Witty, suspenseful, and featuring a cast of memorable characters, Hallowed Bones is a riveting tale of faith, murder, and maternal love. It is Carolyn Haines’s most accomplished novel yet.
My review:
Sarah Booth and Tinkie are called down to New Orleans to clear Doreen, a spiritual leader and healer. She's been accused of killing her infant daughter, but she's not worried as she knows she's innocent and everything will work out.
She tells Sarah Booth that the baby's father could be one of three men, but won't share the names.
Plenty of action in the investigation and in Sarah Booth's love life. She has two men to choose from, but one is taken by a manipulating woman.

I love listening to a well-told story. I keep audiobooks in my car for my commute and for running errands. I love this series for just such occasions. I find myself sitting in the car in a parking lot or in my driveway for just a wee bit more Sarah Booth, Jitty, or Tinkie or CeeCee. I adore all three and would love to have friends like these four women...yes, I know Jitty is a spirit...though I sometimes wonder if Jitty isn't Sarah Booth's subconscious....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

THE BAKER STREET LETTERS: Baker Street Letters #1 - Michael Robertson

First in a spectacular new series about two brother lawyers who lease offices on London's Baker Street—and begin receiving mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes
In Los Angeles, a geological surveyor maps out a proposed subway route—and then goes missing. His eight-year-old daughter in her desperation turns to the one person she thinks might help—she writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes.
That letter creates an uproar at 221b Baker Street, which now houses the law offices of attorney and man about town Reggie Heath and his hapless brother Nigel. Instead of filing the letter like he’s supposed to, Nigel decides to investigate. Soon he’s flying off to L.A., inconsiderately leaving a very dead body on the floor in his office. Big brother Reggie follows Nigel to California, as does Reggie’s sometime lover, Laura – a quick-witted stage actress who’s captured the hearts of both brothers.
Two brothers move into 221b Baker Street, now law offices. Letters pleading for help from the famous previous resident of the address continue to come in. Nigel Heath, the meandering brother of Reggie Heath, wealthy barrister, is assigned to read and dispatch the letters. One comes across the desk and Nigel decides to investigate. In Los Angeles. And gets arrested. There's a dead body. Reggie follows. Investigation ensues.
Such a superbly excellent book! This has the feel of a 'Chinatown' with Englishmen instead of JJ Gittes (Jack's character) investigating murder and shady development deals.
I really cannot wait to read the next in the series, THE BROTHERS OF BAKER STREET.
I highly recommend this one.


When Great War veteran Laurence Bartram arrives in Easton Deadall, he is struck by the beauty of the crumbling manor, venerable church, and memorial to the village’s soldiers. But despite this idyllic setting, Easton Deadall remains haunted by tragedy. In 1911, five-year-old Kitty Easton disappeared from her bed and has not been seen since.
While Lawrence is visiting, a young maid vanishes in a sinister echo of Kitty’s disappearance. And when a body is discovered in the manor’s ancient church, Laurence is drawn into the grounds’ forgotten places, where deadly secrets lie in wait.
Rarely do I read a book that compels me to immediately go out and find the next in series. THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN JOHN EMMETT, the first in the Laurance Bartram series, was one such book. I enjoyed the pace of the book, the character studies, and the bit of mystery that was there. I could only hope that the second in the series would be as superb. And it was.
This one is set a few years after the first book. Laurence has published his architectural book of churches in England and has become a teacher at a local school. He is invited by a friend to come have a look at a church that was discovered to have additional intriguing aspects while being restored. It's part of a larger project Laurence's friend has taken on for a wealthy family in the country.
Laurence arrives to find that the church and the restoration project are indeed intriguing, but not as much as the wealthy family. There is a pall of sadness over the family members, sadness brought on by the unexplained disappearance of a young daughter of one of the two sisters living in the house. The daughter has been missing for some time, since she was five, gone in the middle of the night and never seen again. No one knows if she's alive or dead.
Her mother behaves as if the child will be coming down the stairs any moment. The rest of the family gently enables her belief.
Laurence begins to find information that various members of the family would wish remain hidden. So there is more to the mystery than the disappearance of a young child.
I really cannot wait to read more of this series. I hope the next books comes out soon.


London, 1920. In the aftermath of the Great War and a devastating family tragedy, Laurence Bartram has turned his back on the world. But with a well-timed letter, an old flame manages to draw him back in. Mary Emmett’s brother John—like Laurence, an officer during the war—has apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans’ hospital, and Mary needs to know why.
Aided by his friend Charles—a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novels—Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a bitter feud within Emmett’s regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was Emmett’s death really a suicide, or the missing piece in a puzzling series of murders? As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to face the darkest corners of his war experiences, his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.
This could almost be labeled amateur sleuth, but it doesn't have the same feel as others I've read. It felt more like historical mystery along the lines of Maisie Dobbs, written by Jacqueline Winspear. That may only be because of the time the book is set, after WWI.
Soldiers have come home from the war in various states of wellness or injury. This is also a view of the class system in England and the changes that were occurring.
Laurence Bartram is at odds with his life. He's home from the war, his wife and child died while he was fighting. He has enough money to set aside to live reasonably well without having to immediately find a job. He's writing a book about the architecture of the churches in England. Then he hears from the sister of an old schoolmate. Mary wants Laurence to find out why her brother committed suicide. He came home mentally exhausted from the war, but was doing so much better at the convalescent home where he was recovering. Then Emmett's body is found, dead from what looks to be a self-inflicted wound.
Mary thinks that Laurence must have been closer to him than she. Added to the fact that they both fought in the war, maybe Laurence has insight into what might have caused the death.
Laurence and his friend Charles proceed to investigate, finding out more than they originally imagined would be the story.
There's human greed and pettiness causing more grief and death even among the allies.
I loved this slow moving book. I immediately bought the second in the series and I can't wait to read the next.