Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dumber Than a Box of Rocks

Re: The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly

In so many of the cozy or traditional murder mysteries, the police detectives investigating the murders are stubborn, insensitive and just plain dumb! They refuse to listen to the insights and intuition of our female-sleuths. The police often consider the female-sleuths to be meddlesome and just plain 'in-the-way'. The cops don't get it, which is too bad because our girls have the brains and the gumption to figure out what's what!

Quindicott's police Chief Ciders is no exception. He thinks Dr. Lilly had a fatal 'accident' in Penelope's store, and even goes so far as to say that Penelope is negligent because she allowed Dr. Lilly to climb up a ladder. He thinks Penelope set herself up for a lawsuit by Dr. Lilly's estate.

What does Jack the Ghost think of all this? He calls Chief Ciders "Chief Donut" and he thinks Dr. Lilly was murdered. So does Penelope.

Hmm, I wonder who is right?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just An Accident?

Re: The Ghost and the Femme Fatale By Alice Kimberly

During the Film Noir Festival there is an “accident” at the movie theater. A large audio speaker which was mounted on the ceiling, crashes to the stage and nearly misses legendary actress and femme fatale Hedda Geist.

Bud Napp, local hardware store owner, mounted the speaker and swears that everything was just fine up there when he left it. His thought was that someone could have gotten a ladder and planted a small explosive device near the speaker.

The next day Dr. Irene Lilly, noted film historian from California, comes to Penelope’s bookstore “Buy the Book”. She is going to help set up a display of her new book before the store opens. Penelope dashes out to buy donuts and coffee for their customers. She returns to find Dr. Lilly lying on the floor in a pool of blood. It looks like she’s had an “accident” - she fell off a stepladder while hanging a banner promoting the Film Noir Festival.

The local police come to investigate and they believe it was an “accident”. But Penelope and Jack the Ghost speculate that Dr. Lilly was pushed, and that the speaker crash could have been meant for Dr. Lilly instead of actress Hedda Geist.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly

I liked Alice Kimberly's last book so much I thought I would read the next one in the Haunted Bookshop series. This book starts out with our female-sleuth Penelope Thornton-McClure attending a Film Noir festival at the newly opened and lavishly restored Movie Town Theater in Quindicott Rhode Island.

Penelope's friend and local college professor of English, J. Brainert Parker is a part owner of the new theater. He has worked hard to set up the weekend's activities with films, guest speakers and a former movie femme fatale, Hedda Geist.

I've heard of the term 'Film Noir', but didn't really know what it meant. Author Alice Kimberly says that films of this genre shared the same dark style. In French, Film Noir means 'Black Film'. By this the French movie critics meant the themes dealt with crime, detectives and murder.

According to wikipedia, "Film Noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize moral ambiguity and sexual motivation. Hollywood's classic Film Noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s."

When Penelope explains the term to her resident ghost, Jack Shepard, he says that he lived that life when he was still alive.

Artwork courtesy stock.xchng

Friday, December 19, 2008

Done with The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

As it turns out the mysterious Poe Code really exists in those thirteen old volumes, and it does point to a treasure. I won't reveal what the treasure is but it's pretty neat. Unfortunately a murder was committed by an unscrupulous character who was after the treasure, but Penelope helped solve the murder with the help of her ghost Jack.

Jack gives Penelope clues to her 'case' by showing her one of his old cases that is similar to hers. He does this while she is sleeping - he appears in her dreams and sometimes he even pulls her into his reality. He will even dress her up in the fashions of the 1940's and gets her involved in the action of the cases. The two definitely have some chemistry between them and as he says, "I'll see you in your dreams baby". (Oh, be still my heart.)

I'm pretty fascinated by the idea Ms. Kimberly came up with for this series and I'm really looking forward to reading more of her books.

You can buy this book here:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

She's Got Gams Right Up to Her Neck

Re: The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

Reminds me of the 1970's Rod Stewart song "Hot Legs". Only the statement above was uttered by hard-boiled 1940's big-city private-eye ghost Jack Shepard, and he's referring to a pretty nurse at the local hospital. He is astounded to find out that there are male nurses too and thinks it's a shame. Jack has attitudes and uses language that many women today might find offensive and even sexist. But they were common for his time and among his peers.

The reason Jack and Penelope are at the local hospital is that her friend J. Brainert Parker was robbed and physically attacked in his home. Brainert thinks he has deciphered the Poe Code and obviously someone else thinks that too, because they broke in and stole Brainert's notes.

Backing up a bit, you may ask how Jack's ghost could be at the hospital with Penelope. One day Penelope found a buffalo nickel amongst Jack's possessions and absent-mindedly put it in her pocket. She found that when she left the bookstore, she could still hear Jack's voice! They surmised that Jack's presence was somehow transferred to the nickel, so now when Penelope leaves the bookstore she makes sure to always have the nickel with her.

Sexist comments or not - I would too. I kinda like Jack!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Poe Code

Re: The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

Included with the old leather-bound volumes that Peter Chesley left to "Buy The Book" were very rare editions of the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe - in 13 different books. Supposedly these books have three secret riddles, or codes, randomly hidden in them. When solved the riddles will point the way to a treasure. Some believe the "Poe Code" exists and others don't.

So now the phone is ringing off the hook at Penelope's bookstore as the word gets out about these volumes. The first one sells for $8,000 and another buyer calls and says he wants to pay $5,000. This is just for one book! I wish I had some books like that!

Penelope thinks that Peter Chesley's death was related to this hidden treasure map buried inside the volumes. And Jack the ghost agrees with her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

The female-sleuth of this series is Penelope Thornton-McClure and she lives in the small town of Quindicott, Rhode Island. She is a widowed mom of a 10-year old boy named Spencer. With her aunt Sadie, she runs a bookstore in downtown Quindicott called "Buy the Book".

The interesting thing about "Buy the Book" is that it has a resident ghost in street-smart private investigator Jack Shepard (think Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon"). Jack was murdered in the bookstore many years ago and has never left - that is, his spirit has never left. And only Penelope can 'hear' him. At first she thinks she is going crazy but eventually she learns to accept his presence. In fact he has helped her solve a couple of murders.

"It was a dark and stormy night. No, really." This statement appears in Chapter 1 of this book, which is the third in the series. Penelope and Aunt Sadie are on their way to visit an old beau of Sadie's, Peter Chesley. Peter lives in the old Chesley family mansion that Penelope describes as being like the Addams family mansion - creepy! During their short visit Penelope senses that someone else is in the mansion besides the three of them, but Peter says no.

Peter has some rare and valuable old books he wants them to sell for him on consignment. So Penelope and Sadie load up the car with the books and head for home. A few minutes later Penelope realizes her purse is missing - so they turn around and head back for Peter's creepy old mansion. When they get there they discover the doors are wide open and Peter is dead - lying at the foot of the stairs. He appears to have fallen.

As Penelope reaches for her cell phone to call 911, flashing red lights appear on the property - it seems the police have already been summoned! But who called them?

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Done with "I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason"

I like this book and I think it is well written. I was a bit confused by all the characters and had a hard time keeping some of them straight. But I think that's just me - I've had a lot going on in my personal life lately. I loved finding out more about Earl Stanley Gardner - what a character.

Cece Caruso is spunky and I will enjoy getting to know her better. One thing I don't share with her is her love of designer clothes. Give me a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt anyday!

You can buy the book here:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Birthplace of Perry Mason

Re: I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason by Susan Kandel

I like to look at author's websites. According to Susan Kandel's site,, she got the idea for this book during a weekend trip to Ventura CA. She saw a plaque attached to the side of an old brick building in the historic district that read:

"Historic Point of Interest #33: Birthplace of Perry Mason".

So Ms. Kandel had the idea to create a female-sleuth who writes biographies of dead mystery writers. And in so doing, stumbles upon murder and mayhem and tries to solve them.

I think it's a pretty clever idea. I've already bought the second book in the series and I haven't finished this one yet!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bare Cupboards

Re: I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason by Susan Kandel

Cece Caruso is evidently not a great cook. She laments the fact that her pantry has assorted odds and ends and does not have enough groceries to prepare anything resembling a meal.

That reminds me of Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s female-sleuth, who doesn’t have much in her pantry either. She eats a lot of fast food. She also enjoys odd combinations of things, like peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. I’ve never tried that but it doesn’t sound appetizing to me. I’m a peanut butter and honey fan myself.

I think Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum never has much around her kitchen either and eats a lot of fast food and junk food. Stephanie’s mentor, the ultra cool Ranger, chides her for her eating habits since he is a health food nut.

Ah, who cares what they eat, as long as these ladies solve the mystery!

Raymond Burr Look-a-Like?

Re: I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason by Susan Kandel

One of the interesting tidbits mentioned in this book is that Earl Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason books, looked a lot like actor Raymond Burr. Burr had come in to read for the part of district attorney Hamilton Burger but when Gardner got a look at Burr he said 'there is our Perry Mason!'

Gardner was right on the money. Burr personified the smart defense attorney. It's hard to imagine anyone else in that role.

According to Wikipedia, Perry Mason was television's most successful and longest-running lawyer series from 1957 to 1966. Plus there were more than 25 made-for-TV movies from 1985 to 1993.

We are currently watching Season One, Volume Two:

The acting and writing in these shows is excellent. There are lots of 'red herrings' and we are often very surprised by 'who-done-it'. But Perry Mason isn't - he's figured it out all along!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Re: The Hidden Window Mystery by Carolyn Keene

Peacocks feature prominently in this Nancy Drew book. In her search for the missing stained-glass window, Nancy uncovers a clue that the window might be hidden on the old plantation estate Ivy Hall. She and friends Bess and George stay at the mansion to try to solve the mystery. While there they find a peacock running loose in the yard. Turns out it belongs to a neighbor who raises them and it just got loose. Nonetheless it startles them all.

Ivy Hall is owned by an actress named Sheila Patterson. She is very upset about the peacock and claims it brings bad luck.

I had never heard that before so I did some Google searches. Supposedly a peacock's feather is regarded as a bad omen amongst theatrical folk. Just like other people regard the sighting of a black cat as bad luck.

Evidently NBC did not consider the peacock to be bad luck since they used it for their logo for many years!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rest In Peace Dad!

In Loving Memory of Lawrence F. Schultz, who passed away at age 90.

Date of Birth: February 20, 1918

Date of Death: November 12, 2008

We love you and miss you Dad!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Hidden Window Mystery

I'm also reading Nancy Drew - The Hidden Window Mystery.

Nancy reads an article in a magazine which offers a reward to anyone who can find a missing stained-glass window. The window features a picture of a peacock. Nancy wants to donate the money to the local hospital. Clues lead Nancy and her friends Bess and George to travel to Charlottesville VA where they stay with Nancy's cousin Susan and her husband Cliff.

Not only are they involved in the search for the missing window, but they are asked by Cliff to persuade a neighbor to open up the grounds of his mansion for a charity event. When Nancy, Bess and George walk near the mansion, they hear awful screeching sounds. What is making them?

This book has some information on how to make stained-glass windows. I've toyed with that idea myself, so I've been enjoying reading the book. I love the colors and patterns of most stained-glass windows and think they are beautiful. We have three-Tiffany-styled stained glass lamps and light-fixtures in our home. I'd get more, but my husband says "I don't think so"!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason

What a catchy title for a novel! That plus the color - bright neon lime green - caught my eye at a bookstore we stopped at during our summer vacation. Plus I'm a fan of the old TV series starring Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale so I had to buy the book.

The female-sleuth here is clothes-hound Cece Caruso, a divorced mom living in trendy West Hollywood CA. Cece is writing a biography of Earl Stanley Gardner (ESG), himself an attorney and the author of numerous Perry Mason mystery stories.

As part of her research Cece is reading through many old letters ESG received from people who felt they were wrongly accused and falsely imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Cece reads one letter that catches her eye and off she goes, to delve into the mystery of who killed Joseph Albacco Jr's wife?

I just started reading this book and I'm enjoying the information author Susan Kandel has supplied about ESG. For instance, he was a staunch supporter of the underdog and had a wild almost rebellious streak in him which led him to get involved in boxing when it was considered a felony in California.

I don't have any ESG books but I just might have to get some so I can have my own dreams! Just don't tell my husband!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tom Tom Turkey to the Rescue

Re: Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier

Turkeys figure prominently in this book, in more ways than one. Tom Tom Turkey is a 50-plus-pound male turkey that resides on a local farm. Female-sleuth Lucy Stone goes to the farm for a meeting and unwittingly finds herself face-to-face with Curt Nolan's killer. Tom Tom Turkey actually plays a role in saving her life, while her newly adopted dog Kudo is in Lucy's car waiting for her return.

I'll bet that's a first in mystery-land: having a turkey save you from sudden death!

When I mentioned that to my husband, he reminded me of the infamous WKRP in Cincinnati episode: "Turkeys Away". Radio station WKRP has a promotion to give away free live turkeys. They throw the turkeys out of the plane - and well - it's not a pretty sight. See they thought the turkeys could fly....but they can't.....ouch.

Anyway, "Turkey Day Murder" is fairly low-key. I thought there wasn't much suspense to the story. In spite of that I found myself enjoying the book for the descriptions of Lucy's daily life.

You can purchase the book here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Curt Nolan's Murder

Re: Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier

The murder occurs about half-way through the book, during Chapter 10. There are 23 chapters in the book, so Lucy has to do some fast sleuthing to figure out 'who-done-it'.

Curt leaves behind a dog named Kadjo. In the book's opening chapter, Kadjo is in trouble because he has raided a local hen-house. The Tinker's Cove Board of Selectmen (like a city counsel) has a hearing to determine what to do with Kadjo and he barely escapes with his life. After Curt's death Lucy is asked by Curt's girlfriend to take the dog into her home. She agrees and re-names the dog Kudo.

Kudo kinda reminds me of Cujo, the dog in the Steven King book and movie of the same name. I've seen pieces of the movie Cujo while flipping channels, but have no desire to see the entire movie or read the book. I'm not a Steven King fan, although I did read The Shining and thought the book was good. I just can't get into the idea that a St. Bernard could become a raging killer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lumpy Potatoes and Dusty Turkey

Re: Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier

It's a Thanksgiving Day feast for twelve at Lucy Stone's house - a twenty-five-pound turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, peas and creamed onions. She even made a brown rice and carrot casserole for the visiting college freshman who are vegans.

Everything goes well except for a couple of mishaps - the potatoes are lumpy and the turkey fell on the floor! Lucy thinks, great, I have lumpy potatoes and dusty turkey!

(My husband would call that "floor-enhanced turkey").

The turkey incident happens when Lucy struggles to get it out of the pan and accidentally drops it, in the process spilling greasy turkey juice over herself and on the floor. She is pretty upset when she realizes she can't make gravy, especially when her son Toby keeps bragging to his friends how great his mom's gravy is.

So she improvises: she takes two cans of pork gravy, adds some soy sauce and a dash of cooking sherry and viola! Instant gravy! (I wonder what Goldy Schulz would say about that!)

Toby's friend comments: "I've never had anything like it". I'll bet!

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Turkey Day Murder

The murder of Metinnicut Indian activist Curt Nolan happens on Thanksgiving Day, during the big high-school football game of the Tinkers Cove Warriors vs the Gilead Giants. The body was found near one of the concession stands by a cheerleader. Curt’s head was bashed in by an old ceremonial Indian war club.

The club is sacred to the Metinnicut Indian tribe. Every year the war club is loaned out to the high school football team by Fred Rumford, a member of the local museum.

During pre-game festivities, the club is then carried onto the field by the team’s young captain - this year it is a boy named Chris White. However Chris later loses track of the club and it is picked up by the murderer.

Curt was outspoken and had a habit of provoking people with his opinions. Lucy’s husband Bill wants her to stay out of the investigation, but her elderly friend Miss Tilley wants Lucy to do some sleuthing as a personal favor to her. Miss Tilley had known Curt since he was a little boy and was fond of him.

What will Lucy do? Listen to her husband or do Miss Tilley a favor? Hmmm, not much of a mystery there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

College Freshmen

Re: Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier

Lucy Stone's oldest child just went away to college and now he's coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Lucy is really looking forward to his visit as, of course, she misses him a lot. She feels that of all her children, Toby is the most like her. He will be arriving with a friend so Lucy spends a lot of time cleaning the house and cooking his favorite meal - lasagna. (That's one of my favorites too!)

As it turns out Toby misses dinner - he doesn't arrive home until 1:30AM and he's got three friends with him - one male and two females (oh-oh). They tell Lucy they will sack out on the family room floor instead of his old bedroom, and the next day they get up at 1 in the afternoon. Toby appears in the kitchen with just his boxer shorts on and Lucy emphatically tells him to put more clothes on!

His friends ask what there is to do in town, and they are not happy when Toby informs them there isn't much - not even (gasp!!) a shopping mall. Lucy says this is a small town in the country and that's the way life is there. She reminds Toby that he could go to the big high school pep rally & football game so he can see some of his former friends, and she just winds up embarrassing him in front of his college friends.

Well many years ago I went away to college. I don't remember acting so snooty or arrogant, but I suppose I did anyway. I do recall having a discussion with my mom about a sort-of risqué topic and she probably thought "where is my girl getting all these ideas from?" I remember getting together with my high school friends on our visits home from college. We liked to listen to music and dance and one of my friends said "this is how we dance at MY college!"

Aah, to be a young know-it-all again!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lucy Stone in 'Turkey Day Murder'

The female-sleuth in this novel is named Lucy Stone. She is a familiar character to most all of us: she's a mom. We are moms, we've had a mom and/or we've known someone who is a mom. That's why many people can relate to Lucy. I sure can: the descriptions of shopping, cooking and cleaning sound very familiar!

Lucy lives in the small town of Tinker's Cove, Maine with her husband Bill and their four children: one boy and three girls. She also works as a part-time reporter for the town newspaper, called the Pennysaver. She writes small feature stories but has a nose for news and a knack for solving mysteries.

I picked up several Lucy Stone mysteries at a charity book-sale a couple of years ago. The books looked interesting and were only 50 cents each, and it was for a good cause. The book I'm reading now, called "Turkey Day Murder" is the 7th book in the series. I'm sure I'll gobble it right up!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Links in the Mystery

RE: The Ringmaster's Secret

I've finished this book. We find out what the ringmaster's secret is, all the loose ends were wrapped up and a happy ending ensued. What more could you ask for? I know that real life is often not like this, but I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

Nancy was even rescued by her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, when evil Ringmaster Kroon tried to put her in the lion's cage at the circus.

I've got the 1953 edition of this book and I wondered if any others had been published. I went out to and some sellers have a 1974 edition out there.

Well on to the next book!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Over-Achiever or An Inspiration?

Nancy Drew's "The Ringmaster's Secret" is all about a mystery at a circus. There are several events being held under the big top and one of these is bareback horse-riding. One of the circus regulars becomes injured and Nancy is encouraged to step in and take her place. Nancy was taking trick riding lessons from the former owner of the circus, and a current circus employee noticed how well she did and asked her to be a sub.

My first impression of this was, sure right, now Nancy is an expert at trick horse-back riding on top of being an expert female-sleuth. Seems a bit far-fetched that she's an expert at everything she tries to do! This is unrealistic, but then I thought more about the audience that reads Nancy Drew books.

Instead of making Nancy an over-achiever, I think the author was trying to make Nancy an inspiration - that is, a good role model for young girls. The message is that girls can be good at anything they want to do, whether it be sailing, swimming, horse-back riding, flying a plane or solving mysteries.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dearly Depotted

I really like this series: The Flower Shop Mysteries.

You can purchase the book here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Red Herring

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

I finished Dearly Depotted today at lunch. As I got closer to the end of the book I figured out 'who done it', even though the author used what is commonly known as a red herring to lead me off the scent. Very clever of her!

Wikipedia has a nice explanation of the term red herring, as I have quoted here:

"In literature, a red herring is a narrative element intended to distract the reader from a more important event in the plot, usually a twist ending.

The term "red herring" originates from the tradition whereby young hunting dogs in Britain were trained to follow a scent with the use of a "red" (salted and smoked) herring (see kipper). This pungent fish would be dragged along a trail until the puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (which has a much stronger odor) across the animal's trail at right angles. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent.

In literature, the most commonplace use of a "red herring" is in mystery fiction. One particular character is described or emphasized in a way that seems to throw suspicion upon that character as the person who committed the crime: later, it develops that someone else is the guilty party."

Here is the link:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cozy Mysteries

I purchase most of my books from I read a lot of product reviews there too as great information is provided in them.

I noticed that some reviewers called these books ‘cozies’. I didn’t realize what that meant and looked it up on wikipedia:

“Cozy mysteries began in the late 20th century as a reinvention of the Golden Age whodunnit; these novels generally shy away from violence and suspense and frequently feature female amateur detectives. Modern cozy mysteries are frequently, though not necessarily in either case, humorous and thematic (culinary mystery, animal mystery, quilting mystery, etc.)".

You can read more here:

I didn't know there was a category to describe the type of book I enjoy reading!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nancy Drew - The Ringmaster's Secret

RE: The Ringmaster's Secret by Carolyn Keene (published 1953)

I've been reading this book in the evening. It's not one of my favorite Nancy Drew stories. I think it's because the ringmaster is cruel and abusive towards his wife and 18-year-old stepdaughter, Lolita. He is the same way towards his circus employees. That kind of behavior really bothers me.

In this story Nancy is asked to help Lolita find her real parents. They supposedly died in a circus accident several years earlier and the Kroons adopted Lolita. But whenever she asks about her parents, they offer very little information. Naturally Nancy is suspicious of them.

Nancy also wonders if someone has it out for her. While she is watching a performance, she is almost choked to death by a whip and a note is put in her pocket to stay away from the circus. Then a day later a young girl bare-back horse rider is thrown from her horse when someone tosses a whip into the ring and it hits the horse. Nancy thinks it is the same whip and then wonders if someone has it in for the circus too.

Nancy has been asked to substitute for the bare-back rider as she has been doing some stunt riding on her own. She is not sure at first but is convinced when she's told that she will have a chance to do more sleuthing. That is a prospect she can't turn down!

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Goofy Grandmas

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

One endearing character in a few of these mystery series is the goofy grandma who provides a lot of wacky comic relief. Of course there is Grandma Mazur in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. And there is 'Nana', Emily Andrews grandmother in the Passport to Peril mystery series by Maddy Hunter.

Abby Knight has her own 'grandma' of sorts. She's Grandma Osborne. You see Abby was once engaged to Pryce Osborne, of the very rich and snobbish Osborne clan. Pryce was pressured by his family to break off his engagement to Abby when she flunked out of law school. The family is very concerned about social status and it just wouldn't have looked good for Pryce to marry Abby. But Pryce's grandmother always liked Abby and doesn't miss an opportunity to rub it in. In fact if the Osborne family needs help with Grandma, they ask Abby!

Grandma Osborne plays a role in this mystery, as she was the one who found the body of Jack Snyder at the reception. She thinks he is just sleeping, but finds out otherwise in a big hurry.

Monday, October 13, 2008


RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

Proprietor Abby Knight’s flower shop is named Bloomers. A cute pun, given that flowers bloom and that ladies used to wear bloomers. Speaking of puns, here is one from my punster-husband:

Question: What is a murderer’s favorite flower?

Answer: A Crocus (Or does he mean Croakus?)

Anyway, when I was a kid we used to live about 3 houses down from a flower shop. I played with the grandson of the owner of this shop so I was in the store frequently. I remember that the smell of all those flowers was just heavenly.

Abby started her store with money from her grandfather’s trust fund. The fund was meant for college, but since she flunked out of law school, she had to find a use for the rest of the money. So she bought the store from Lottie Dombowski, who now works for Abby part-time. A great solution to both of their problems.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Abby Doesn't Know

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

I've been surfing around Kate Collins website and found an interesting page called "What Abby Doesn't Know". It's under the "Secrets" tab. How funny!

I loved the part about Abby's assistant Grace Bingham meeting Elvis back in 1958 and how she secretly believes Graceland was named after her. What a hoot!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Natural Snoop

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

That's what Abby's cousin Jillian calls Abby: a natural snoop. Not very flattering, but true. It's a trait that many female sleuths seem to have.

One potential suspect in the murder of Jack Snyder is a man named Richard Davis. Richard is dating Grace Bingham, an employee of Abby's at Bloomers flower shop. Grace is naturally upset and asks for Abby's help in investigating the murder. I suspect that Abby would do it anyway without Grace asking, but this just gives her an excuse. So Abby interviews Richard and it turns out that Jack used to work for him. Also turns out that Jack embezzled $25,000 from Richard's company and Richard vowed he would teach Jack 'a lesson'. Abby says that the police could misinterpret that statement. Richard replies that he didn't do anything wrong.

However, Richard does not have an alibi for the time that Jack was murdered.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Dead Body

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

Before the bride & groom can say “I Do”, there is a loud commotion in the back row - Jillian’s uncle Josiah Turner is punching a man named Jack Snyder. It seems Jack got Josiah’s daughter Melanie pregnant and then refused to acknowledge the child.

Eventually order is restored and the wedding continues. During the ceremony Abby steps outside and finds a body near the gazebo. It turns out to be none other than Jack Snyder and yep, he’s dead.

Josiah and Melanie are suspects of course, but we find out that Jack was recently released from prison and had a history of arson and theft. Hmm, the plot thickens...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dearly Depotted

Next up on my reading list is "Dearly Depotted" by Kate Collins. This book is third in the series about young Indiana florist Abby Knight. This series is fast becoming one of my favorites.

Abby is fresh out of law school - by way of flunking out. She's smart and spunky. Her flower shop is named Bloomers (catchy name) and she is always scrambling for new customers so she can pay her bills. She has a knack for finding dead bodies and for solving the crime. She fantasizes about her new friend, hunky Marco Salvare, who owns a restaurant down the street from Bloomers. He is a former cop and part-time private investigator and the perfect crime-solving partner for Abby.

In Dearly Depotted, Abby is a bridesmaid in her cousin Jillian's wedding. Jillian has a habit of backing out of her previous engagements and since Abby is doing the flowers for this wedding, she is nervous that Jillian will call off the wedding once again. But Abby can breathe a sigh of relief since the wedding goes as planned.

Well, not quite......

Photos courtesy Ebay and stock.xchng

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oops, I goofed

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

Well I discovered that I misspelled Goldy's name all throughout my posts. I have Goldi and it should be Goldy. I think it's because I used to work with a Goldi several years ago. Ironically she was a red-head, and I don't think a natural one either. Nice lady though and I wonder how she's doing now.

Since I'm done with Sweet Revenge, it's time for a new book I can read on my lunch break. I chose Kate Collins "Dearly Depotted" and I'll be writing about that in my next few posts.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Done with "Sweet Revenge"

I've finished "Sweet Revenge" by Diane Mott Davidson. The last chapter was a real page turner and we discover, along with Goldi, "Who Done It". I had the wrong suspect, but that's OK. I can't always be right - HA!

I must say that at times the story moved very slowly and it seemed like there was a lot of 'filler'.

Anyway, I won't reveal who killed Drew Wellington because I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone else. And we do discover the secret about Sandee Brisbane and learn more about the stolen maps.

Revenge is not sweet after-all: it's sour.

As with every Goldi book, there are several recipes included with the book. I have not tried any of them yet but I hope to some day. The “Got-A-Hot-Date Bars” sound quite interesting!

You can buy the book at

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Who Done It?

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

I’m close to finishing this book. I have my hunch as to “who done it”. There are quite a few suspects in this book.

Goldi’s detective-husband Tom is investigating, and it almost seems like he is collaborating with her. He talks about the details of the case with her and swears her to secrecy. I don’t recall his character doing that in previous books, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read one in this series. I imagine that might be unethical in real life, but then again Goldi does have a track record for solving the crime.

In the meantime I’ve started another Nancy Drew book, The Ringmaster’s Secret. This one was written in 1953. The main characters here are circus people, led by a cruel ringmaster named Reinhold Kroon. Nancy has already had a couple of run-ins with him while taking six-year old neighbor Teddy to see them setting up the circus.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dogged Determination

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

Now I remember why I admire Goldi, in spite of her expresso-chugging, workaholic hyperactivity.  She's very persistent and reminds me of a bloodhound following a scent.  Goldi is determined to find the truth even though she puts herself in peril.  In this regard Goldi is like many of her fellow female-sleuths in fiction-land out there. 
In "Sweet Revenge" she thinks she sees Sandee Brisbane (who is supposed to be dead) and follows her in friend Marla's car.  In so doing, she smashes up the car and walks away with minor bruises and cuts.  (Marla is quite upset but forgives Goldi.  Marla is very wealthy and says she will just go and buy another car.) 
Goldi also wanders around a snowy creek-bed to look at a murder scene.  The police are also there and in order to avoid detection, she climbs up a hill overlooking the creek.  Luck is not with her however and she takes a tumble, and of course is spotted by the police.  She is well known to them since her husband Tom Schulz is a police detective - but they shake their heads anyway and tell her to not get involved.  Tom tells her also to stay out of it and let the police handle it. 
But they all know she won't listen to them - she has to follow her hunches!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mystery of the Maps

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

I’m about half-way through this book now. The victim in this book, Drew Wellington, was a buyer and seller of rare antique maps. These maps are the kind that sell for thousands of dollars.

But there is a question as to whether he legitimately bought the maps he sold. Some claim he stole them. There are allegations that he visited libraries and literally ripped off old maps from the shelves without anyone noticing until much later.

When Goldi found Drew dead in the Aspen Meadows library, the police did a search and found one map in his briefcase. A fellow map dealer who was at the library at the same time, claims that Drew had three with him when he entered the library.

So how many maps did Drew have? If he had three, what happened to the other two? Was he killed for them? Did the killer take them, or did someone else see an opportunity after Drew was dead to rifle through his belongings and steal the maps?

Another mystery to be solved.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Saturday, September 27, 2008

High in the Rocky Mountains

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

Goldi lives in a fictitious town called Aspen Meadow, CO. According to Diane Mott Davidson’s website, Aspen Meadow is in the mountains west of Denver. Diane herself lives in Evergreen CO, which is not unlike Aspen Meadow. I imagine it helps a writer to know a little something of the subject they write about. Her descriptions of the terrain are always interesting.

Sweet Revenge takes place in mid-December. It is snowy and cold. I can relate as I live in Wisconsin, where winters are all-together much too long. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I were in Colorado - at least we’d have the mountain scenery to enjoy. But unlike Goldi, I think I’d like to hibernate during the Colorado winter so I wouldn’t have to drive!

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Likes and Dislikes of the Goldi Catering Series

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

I like the relationship Goldi has with her wealthy best friend, Marla.  As it turns out Marla and Goldi were both married to Dr. John Richard Korman AKA "The Jerk".  If memory serves from previous books, Goldi was married to him for several years while Marla was only married to him for a short time.  Goldi was beaten up quite a bit by "The Jerk" as he has a mean and abusive streak.  So I think it's great that Goldi and Marla were able to hook up and remain friends in their "Post Jerk" era and commiserate on their miserable experiences with him.
One criticism I have of this series is that Goldi can be overly hyper. Her tendency to chug expressos gets on my nerves at times. The only time she seems to be at all relaxed is when she is cooking. I guess her career choice of caterer is a good one - all that work she does in the kitchen just makes me tired!
Despite that, would I hire her to cater for me? You bet! To heck with the low-fat, low-cholesterol foods!

Photo courtesy

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sweet Revenge

I just started reading Diane Mott Davidson's "Sweet Revenge". This is her 14th mystery story featuring female sleuth/caterer Goldi Schulz. I've read all the other Goldi mysteries and just got this one in paperback. It is close to 500 pages including recipes from Goldi's kitchen. I have yet to try any of the recipes out - someday when I 'retire' I just might!

Goldi lives in the small town of Aspen Meadow in Colorado, outside of Denver. She lives with her second husband, police detective Tom Schulz, and her son Arch from her first marriage. She operates her small catering business out of her home. It's called: "Goldilocks Catering, Where Everything Is Just Right!" A cute & catchy name.

The premise of Sweet Revenge is that Goldi is investigating the murder of Drew Wellington, the former district attorney. She was setting up for a breakfast she was to cater in the city library when she and the head librarian happened upon the dead body of Mr. Wellington. Of course Goldi has to try to figure out what happened, even though her husband Tom reminds her to stay out of the case and let the police handle it.

Perhaps there is another mystery to be solved: Goldi also thinks she sees a woman who is supposed to be dead named Sandee Brisbane. Sandee murdered Goldi's ex-husband and then committed suicide. Now Goldi wonders if Sandee really did commit suicide? Did they ever find her body? Why was Sandee, or someone who looked just like her, in the library right before they find Mr. Wellington's body?

We will find out as the page turns....

Photo courtesy Ebay

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Whispering Statue - 1937

RE: The Whispering Statue by Carolyn Keene

I finished reading this Nancy Drew book for the first time. I have the 1970 edition and have read that one a few times.

This version had so many sub-plots that I got confused about 2/3 of the way through, and couldn’t figure out which character was which. But I must say that by the end of the book, everything was neatly wrapped up and it all made sense.

This is where Nancy ‘gets’ her dog, Togo - or rather, he gets her. He is a stray that Nancy and her friends Bess and George happen upon in the park. He keeps following the girls and Nancy decides to ‘adopt’ him. And his real owner(s) never show up, so she keeps him.

The main plot is about an elderly woman Nancy meets on a train trip, a Miss Morse. Nancy is convinced that a shady character named Joe Mitza is out to swindle her. She encounters Miss Morse again in a little town aptly named ‘Sea Cliff’. This is where the Whispering Statue comes in. It is located in the garden of a very old mansion on a sea cliff. Of course Nancy very strongly resembles the statue and uses that to her advantage in the mystery.

I picked up this version on Ebay. The book is in pretty good shape considering it’s over 70 years old!

You can actually buy this on too. Here is the link:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Chapter a Day

I'm usually always reading one book and sometimes two.  I like to slip a paperback in my purse for easy reading at lunch time.  Then in the evening I typically read at least one chapter in another book. Sometimes it's a mystery, sometimes a non-fiction book.  Right now it's a Diane Mott Davidson book at lunch ("Sweet Revenge") and a Nancy Drew book at night. 
Every few years I go downstairs to our storage area and break open the Nancy Drew book boxes with the goal of re-reading the entire series.  For the past few months I've been doing that, and also reading for the first time some of the older versions of those books that I've bought on Ebay.  It brings me back to the summer days at home lounging out in the backyard reading while getting a suntan.  This was when we slathered on suntan lotion rather than sun block.  Aahh, the good old days!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Favorite Things

Here are some things I like (or don't like) in a mystery book.  I am NOT a fan of gratuitous violence and fortunately many of these books have little of that.  I wouldn't read them if they did.  Yes a murder is usually always committed and it's not pretty, but it doesn't have to be described in gory detail.  In my opinion there is enough of that on the daily news.
Since I love to laugh, I like a touch of humor.  Some series, notably the Stephanie Plum books, have many Laugh-Out-Loud moments.  Others are more serious.  As long as they are true to the character, I can enjoy both types.   
And a little romance never hurts to spice things up.  In my opinion it keeps the story from getting too wrapped up in the main plot.  It's an enjoyable sub-plot and keeps me turning the pages. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Same Title, Different Story

I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago that there are different versions of Nancy Drew books under the same title. So I’ve been searching Ebay auctions for the other versions I don’t have. Some of the books have been completely rewritten, like ‘The Whispering Statue’. I got the 1970 edition when I was younger, but I recently purchased the 1937 edition. I’m currently reading the older version and was surprised to find out it is nothing like my 1970 edition: it’s a totally different story.

Other books in the Nancy Drew series have been edited to bring them more up to date with our current culture and to make them more politically correct. They have, however, kept most of the same characters and plot-line.

I’ve found to my delight that the older books are quite entertaining - the language is more descriptive. Many of the newer books are more skimpy on the details and provide more ‘action’, as if to speed up the story.

Photos Courtesy Ebay & Wikipedia

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Done with "Murder of a Small-Town Honey"

I have finished "Murder of a Small-Town Honey". The killer was not who I thought it would be but I'm not disappointed. The book had a good ending. Skye's brother was vindicated in the end. She used her head to escape from the killer in what I thought was a pretty dangerous move, but it worked.

The relationship between Skye and May, her mom, is sweet and I hope future books in the series explore that. And perhaps future books will explore the budding relationship between Skye and Simon, the town coroner. I'll have to read the next book in the Scumble River series to find out. But it will be awhile as I have several other books to read.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Winding Down

RE: Murder of a Small Town Honey by Denise Swanson

The suspense is building! I'm getting closer to the end of "Murder of a Small-Town Honey". Skye finally has her list of suspects narrowed down, and I have mine. OK, she has more people on her list - I only have one - but my 'guy' is also on her list. So I will see if I'm right and let you know. I won't reveal any details however, as I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone.

I still haven't decided if I will be buying more books in the Scumble River series. I've enjoyed this book, but it's been hard for me to relate to any of the characters. Perhaps in future books the characters will have more depth to them. I'll decide after I finish this one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On the Lookout

This is my first attempt writing a blog. It’s my hope to share my interest and insight into the genre with other interested parties. Maybe some of you reading this will also have a favorite female-sleuth that you can share with us. I’m always on the lookout for new and fun series. has recommendations for me that they share in the hopes of getting me further hooked! Thankfully we have a rewards credit card from them - after you earn 2500 points, you get a gift certificate worth $25. Good enough for about 4 new paperbacks!

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)

Murder of a Small-Town Honey

I'm currently reading the first book in the "Scumble River" mystery series called "Murder of a Small-Town Honey" by Denise Swanson. This series is new to me, and was probably one of those that recommended based on my purchase history. So far I'm about half-way done and I've been enjoying this book. There have not been any "Laugh Out Loud" moments, but that's OK.

The female sleuth's name is Skye Denison, and Scumble River is the small town in Illinois she is from. She is a school psychologist and has recently moved back home after losing her job and boyfriend in New Orleans.

Skye stumbles upon a dead body and is shocked to learn that it was a woman by the name of Honey Adiar, who used to date Skye's older brother Vince in high school. Vince tells Skye that Honey claims to have had his son, and was asking him for money. (Sounds like blackmail to me!) The police think Vince killed Honey. He claims not and Skye believes him.

Skye's mother May works as a part-time dispatcher for the local police station. She is the one who calls Skye to let her know Vince was arrested. She wants Skye to find out who the real killer is. May thinks that Skye's background as a psychologist will be helpful - that people will open up to her.

The relationship between Skye and her mother is interesting. They love each other but get on each other's nerves. I thought it was interesting that May wanted her to get involved. Typically a mother would not want her daughter trying to solve a murder mystery, so this is an interesting twist.

Skye is smart, and does a good job of handling people and knows what to tactfully say in tough situations, although she does have to bite her tongue a few times. A good role model for all of us!

(Photo courtesy Ebay)

Friday, September 5, 2008


So now I’ve become obsessed with fictional female-sleuths like Kinsey Millhone, Stephanie Plum, Hannah Swenson, and Goldi Schultz, to name a few. I admire their ability to put the pieces together and solve the mystery. I also enjoy their senses of humor and their relationships with lovers, family and friends.

As this blog progresses, I will share my thoughts and opinions about the books I’ve read. I can even sometimes figure out ‘who done it’ before I reach the end of the book!

Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy my blog!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"G" is for Grafton

My passion for reading mystery books again was re-kindled in the early 1990’s by a co-worker who loaned me several books to read during the long bus rides to and from work. Among those she loaned me was a Sue Grafton ‘alphabet mystery’ about a female private investigator named Kinsey Millhone. I don’t remember which particular book in the series she let me read, but I knew I had to start my own collection with “A is for Alibi”. Over time I got all the rest and I’m now up to “S is for Silence”.

I found many of the Sue Grafton paperbacks at used bookstores like Half Price Books. Then along came the computer age and the internet. Wow - in no time I discovered and and, along with some used book sales at work to benefit charity, I have increased my collection of books about lady PI’s. I’m addicted and obsessed!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nancy Drew's Influence

As the 1960's and 1970's progressed, my parents and I added to my collection of the yellow hard-cover Nancy Drew books.  We stopped at number 48, The Crooked Banister.  Then my time was occupied with high school and college activities.  I graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and got my first professional job as a researcher.  I continued my career in business and market research and data analysis.  Boy, I was a long way from those grade school days and my summer days spent reading Nancy Drew mystery stories.  Then again, maybe Nancy influenced me in some way - after all, research means "to carry out investigations into a subject".

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How it all started

My interest in the genre started in the mid-to-late 1960's with my first Nancy Drew book, "The Secret in the Old Attic".  This was an era when girls were groomed for traditional careers.  I remember being asked in grade school, "What would you like to be when you grow up?"  I noticed the other girls were saying "teacher or nurse", and the boys were saying "doctor or fireman" - the more traditional occupations.  I think I said "teacher" and I wondered as I said it if there couldn't be more for us girls than a couple of choices.  Anyway, the Nancy Drew books opened up my world and showed that girls could do other things, like use their 'pretty little heads' to solve crimes. 

(Photo courtesy Ebay)